Rolls-Royce has delivered the final RB199 turbofan engine serviced at its Bristol facility under its ROCET 2 support contract with the UK MoD.
Under the terms of the contract engines for the Royal Air Force fleet of Tornado combat aircraft have undergone repair and overhaul at the site before being returned to operational service at RAF Marham.
The Tornado fleet is due to retire from service in 2019 and Rolls-Royce engineers will continue to provide on-base support until that time, while also increasing support capability for the new F-35B Lightning squadrons at the base.
The delivery milestone was marked at a ceremony in Bristol attended by senior MOD representatives, including Sir Simon Bollom, Chief Executive of Defence Equipment and Support (DE&S), and Air Commodore David Bradshaw, Commander of the RAF’s new F-35B Lightning Force.
Rolls-Royce has supported the fleet since December 2005 under the RB199 Operational Contract for Engine Transformation (ROCET), providing a guaranteed level of availability for engines, spares and ground support equipment. The agreement also included additional support elements, such as the development of engine health monitoring techniques designed to improve operational capability.
In 2011, in-depth servicing and maintenance of RB199 engines was moved from RAF Marham to the Rolls-Royce facility in Bristol – just months before a significant increase in support requirements as the result of the Tornado’s participation in Operation Ellamy in Libya. During that deployment flying hours increased by 50% but the teams in Bristol stepped up engine output to maintain 100% availability.
Commenting on the milestone delivery Sir Simon Bollom, one of the architects of the original ROCET contract, said: “The ROCET contract has been truly pioneering in its nature and is an absolute exemplar of partnered support delivered to the front line.”
Air Commodore David Bradshaw said: “The reliability of the RB199 has enabled millions of hours of virtually continuous operations allowing us to take the fight to the enemy.”
Paul Craig, Rolls-Royce Director of Services – Defence, said: “There has always been a huge amount of pride in the RB199 in Bristol – many of the people that have worked tirelessly to support the engine in service actually worked on the assembly and test of those same engines earlier in their career.
“We have pioneered many of our service innovations on the RB199 programme and look forward to continuing to partner with the RAF as we apply those cutting edge technologies to the next generation of combat aircraft.”
In total over 600 RB199 engines were repaired or overhauled on the Bristol ‘pulse line’. In an incredible piece of symmetry, the final engine to be delivered – serial number 6832 – was exactly the same one as first rolled off the line in 2011.