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Rolls-Royce builds military engine support business

 - December 11, 2006, 7:31 AM

Rolls-Royce is seeking to add the Middle and Far East to its rapidly growing military engines support portfolio, and says significant deals are likely to be forged “in the medium term.”

The company’s mission ready management solutions (MRMS) arm, which provides support for engines in the field, already accounts for 55 percent of defense sales turnover. “The market is changing significantly,” said John Boughton, director of marketing and sales for the defense sector. “Our civil and military customers are looking increasingly to Rolls-Royce for much wider provision of services.”

The UK manufacturer recently opened a new operations center in its latest initiative to expand MRMS business, designed to coordinate support for defense customers. The center will help support teams to identify early on any issues that might impact engine performance or reliability in the field. A similar center was opened for supporting civil engines in 2004.

According to Boughton, the engine support industry is going through a “major cultural evolution” as military operators adjust to the idea of handing over responsibility for maintenance to a company. “Instead of just selling spares, we focus on making engines available for missions,” said Boughton.

The MRMS package can be adjusted to suit the customer, with services ranging from straightforward spares provision to total support. “Not all customers have adapted to the new mindset,” said Boughton. “MRMS means we’re responsible for reliability, which means it is in our interest to improve reliability levels. We take the risk instead of the customer,” he added.

In the U.S., R-R provides an 85 percent availability guarantee to the U.S. Air Force for the Adour engines powering its T-45 Goshawk trainers in a deal worth $55 million a year. Similar arrangements have been made with R-R engines powering UK Royal Air Force aircraft. In the Middle and Far East, Boughton said, “We’ll be signing a couple of smaller deals soon and we’re working to ensure customers understand the implications of MRMS in terms of risk transfer and other factors.