Douglas Barrie/LONDON

GEC-MARCONI HAS abandoned plans to offer a French Micro-turbo engine as part of its Pegasus stand-off missile bid for a £1 billion Royal Air Force procurement, amid concerns over the availability of the power plant.

The company has dropped the French engine in favour of a Teledyne Ryan/Lucas alternative because of its inability to obtain licence clearance from the French Government for the Micro-turbo engine, along with other French equipment for its bid (Flight International, 29 November-5 December, 1995).

Ray Matthews, chairman of GEC-Marconi Dynamics, says: "We felt it was prudent to offer a UK-source solution. We wanted to reduce the risk to the customer." Matthews adds that the French authorities "have not denied" GEC's request for clearance, but neither has GEC "received any".

The shift in proposed power plant also casts a question mark over the role of Kentron in the bid. The South African company, is believed to have been included in the power plant element of the GEC bid, dealing with the Pegasus integrated propulsion module.

Kentron is using a Micro-turbo engine for its own stand off missile demonstrator programme, the multi-purpose stand-off weapon.

The Micro-turbo engine is being offered by British Aerospace and Matra in the Storm Shadow, their Matra Apache-based bid for the RAF requirement. Rival bids, have been submitted, by European and US companies.

In battling for the RAF contract, GEC sees clear export potential for the Pegasus, should it win the UK competition. It argues that a customer - known to be the United Arab Emirates (UAE) - will almost certainly place a similarly sized order to that of the RAF, should the Pegasus be chosen.

The Pegasus is based on the company's family, of precision-guided munitions (PGMs) developed for the UAE. GEC's bid, for the Gulf state's stand-off missile requirement, called the Centaur, has a high degree of commonality with the Pegasus.

The Pegasus is a 5m-long, 1,150kg, imaging infra-red-guided weapon with a range believed to be more than 350km (190nm). It differs from the 900kg PGM airframe, on which it is based, in having considerably larger rear-fins.

These fins are semi-recessed in the fin root during aircraft carriage, "jack-knifing out" as the weapon is released.

GEC is offering autonomous (and man-in-the-loop) guidance modes. For the latter, a 3.35m, 280kg, datalink pod has already been developed as part of its PGM family.

Source: Flight International