In what will be a government to government deal, US aerospace giant Boeing Company says that the F/A-18E/F Super Hornet fighter will be a better choice for the Indian Navy which is in the process of identifying fighter jets to operate off its aircraft carriers.
Will they be made in India?
The numbers of the aircraft the Indian Navy is seeking is not confirmed so far. The original requirement was for 57 aircraft but this number is likely to be revised as the focus is on indigenous Twin Engine Carrier Based Deck Fighter.
“To manufacture in India is a decision which will be dependent on the numbers that are being ordered. The deal when it happens will be through government-to-government,” Torbjorn Sjogren, vice president, International Government and Defence, Boeing, told Financial Express Online in an exclusive interaction in New Delhi.
According to him “The US Navy goes with Super Hornet and it is already invested in the Block III version of the F/A-18 E/F and is set for more production, and life extension programme.”
“India is a big focus for Boeing. We are waiting to hear from the Indian Navy about the Super Hornets trials,” Torbjorn Sjogren, said.
Last month, the company had flown two Super Hornets to INS Hansa, Goa for trials on the Indian Navy’s Shore Based Test Facility (SBTF). During the trials the aircraft showcased their ski-jump ability and compatibility to operate from the first Indigenous Aircraft Carrier (IAC) of India.
Financial Express Online has reported earlier that several innovative solutions which are related to the aircraft’s carrier compatibility are being currently developed by the Boeing’s technology teams in the Bengaluru located Engineering and Technology centre.
Boeing’s growing presence in India
During an exclusive interaction Torbjorn Sjogren, shared details about the growing presence of the company in India from Civil aviation to military aircraft.
The US based aerospace giant Boeing started with a partnership with state-owned Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL) in 2007 for producing parts for commercial and defense aircraft. And its presence in the Indian Air Force and the Navy has gone up. Today, the Indian Air Force (IAF) is operating 11 C-17s, 22 AH-64 Apaches, 15 CH-47 Chinooks, 12 P-8Is for the Indian Navy, 3 VVIP aircraft and two Head of State aircraft, all Boeing platforms.
“The footprint in India is increasing. Additional six AH-64E Apache attack helicopters which will have indigenous fuselages are coming in for the Indian Army. Boeing is already sourcing over USD one billion per year from a large and growing base of over 280 suppliers manufacturing critical systems and components for some of the most advanced products.”
Engaging with India
He also confirmed that the company is engaging with its defence customers here in India for not only the current requirements but also for future requirements for national security.
The company is engaging with India and showcasing their portfolio which can be delivered to India to develop capabilities they require for the execution of their missions.
What is the company offering to India?
Besides fielding its F/A-18 Super Hornet Block III for the Indian Navy, the company is also in the race for the IAF’s requirement of fighter jets. As has been reported earlier, Boeing is fielding its F-15EX as well as F/A-18 Super Hornet Block III for the IAF.
Also on offer are additional P-8Is, Apaches and Chinook Helicopters, KC-46 aerial refuellers, performance based logistic solutions, additional training, and sustainment.
Operational capability and readiness
Through sustenance contracts the company is already working with IAF and Indian Navy to provide operational capability and readiness for the P-8Is, C-17s, Apaches, Chinooks and Head of State aircraft.
According to the company, investments in R&D will help in building capabilities indigenously to drive innovation and to also contribute to the growth of Indian aerospace and defence sector. This includes new-age technologies to replace the traditional approaches — next-generation airplane health management, environment-friendly coatings, advanced networks and secure-communication. In a first of its kind outside the US, Boeing has invested USD 200 million in the new upcoming Boeing India Engineering & Technology Center.
‘Make in India’ ‘Make for World’
Among the company’s global supply chain around 26 percent of the Boeing suppliers are MSMEs and they have raised the bar to deliver world class quality critical systems and components which are being used globally on major platforms.
There are huge demands for Chinook and Apache Helicopters from Germany, Poland, and Australia. This means, “Several critical components including Wire Bundles which are made in India will be fitted onboard the helicopters which the company is in the process of manufacturing,” Torbjorn Sjogren said.
As has been reported earlier in Financial Express Online, Tata Boeing Aerospace Limited (TBAL), in Hyderabad, is already producing aero-structures for Apache helicopters and this includes fuselages, secondary structures and vertical spar boxes. These are for the global and Indian customers as well as the US Army. There are almost 1,100 suppliers, sub-suppliers working with Tata. This means more jobs, more work for the Indian industry and the MSMEs.