For flight trials, US manufacturer Boeing is planning to send two F/A-18E/F Super Hornet fighter aircraft to an Indian Navy test facility in Goa soon. The aerospace giant has pitched its twin-seater F/A-18 E/F Block III Super Hornet which can operate from a `ski-jump’ ramp and can also be an enabler for secure Indo-Pacific.
The aircraft has completed ski-jump tests successfully in 2020 and there have been extensive simulated studies. And when the aircraft reach India soon, they will prove this with more operational demonstrations.
This twin-engine fighter jet if down selected will be competing with Dassault Aviation’s Rafale Marine which has been recently upgraded and France is ready to offer the same for the requirement of Indian Navy’s soon to be commissioned first indigenous aircraft carrier (IAC). This IAC will be going to Eastern Naval Command later this year as has been reported earlier by Financial Express Online.
Is the CEO of Boeing heading to India?
Though no official dates have been declared, David L Calhoun, CEO& President of Boeing Company is likely to meet with the top officials in the Ministry of Defence when he visits India.
According to the buzz in the corridors of South Block, he is expected to fly to India soon. His visit comes close on the heels of his recent meeting with defence minister Rajnath Singh ahead of the 2+2 Indo-US ministerial dialogue in Washington DC.
India’s defence minister had met with Boeing and Raytheon – two major aerospace & defence companies to take advantage of the government’s Make in India initiative and to move towards ‘Make for the World’.
What is STOBAR?
According to top Boeing officials, the aircraft that is being offered to India is a multi-role, and most advanced, frontline fighter of the US Navy (USN). It is the workhorse for the fleet of the US Navy. In an earlier interaction with Financial Express Online, top Boeing officials had said the twin engine aircraft are capable of operating from the Indian Navy aircraft carriers. And they will meet or even exceed the short take-off (STOBAR) performance requirements.
This is a system which is used for either launching an aircraft or recovery of an aircraft from the deck of an aircraft carrier.
Financial Express Online has reported earlier that the US Company has fielded not only F/A-18 Super Hornet for the Indian Navy, but also F-15EX for Indian Air Force’s requirement of 114 fighters and KC-46 tanker for aerial refueling and ISR capabilities.
Future of six P-8i that the government was planning to acquire is uncertain. Sources have confirmed to Financial Express Online that in March the Indian side asked the company to hold the commercial bid validity until July 2022. The commercial bid was to expire in March 2022.
As reported, the P8I has fulfilled Indian Navy’s need for a long range maritime surveillance and anti-submarine warfare (ASW) requirements in the Indian Ocean Region. Since its induction in 2013, the aircraft has logged almost 35,000 flight hours and has supported the Indian Navy in its missions.
Is the Boeing Company looking at setting up MRO for P-8?
For providing MRO services, the company could possibly look at setting up a facility here. According to industry sources, recently the company officials had discussed Anti-Submarine Warfare (ASW) capable Long Range Maritime Reconnaissance Aircraft P8’s MRO. Countries like Australia (QUAD member) are flying P-8A.
Boeing Company already has more than 275 Indian suppliers who are part of the long supply chain and manufacturing and delivering parts and complex assemblies for both military and commercial aircraft. These include the Apache, Chinook, C-17, F/A-18, F-15, P-8, and T-7, including P-8I.
Atmanirbhar Bharat and Make in India
The US-based company is already supporting India in its two major initiatives and more that USD 1 billion worth products are sourced from India for the global aerospace market.
Rafale Marine Vs F/A-18E/F Super Hornet
Recently, a French publication La Tribune has reported that the government of France is studying a possible sale of four used Rafale Marine jets to the Indian Navy.
La Tribune reported France had been studying the sale of used Rafale Marine jets to gain an edge to win the larger contract from the Indian Navy. According to the French publication ‘F3-R’ is the current production standard of the Rafale fighter jets that have the capability to fire the Meteor long-range air-to-air missile and can also be equipped with upgraded sensors and electronics.
India office set to welcome new VP
Soon, new Vice president of Boeing’s India Business Development Alain Garcia will arrive in India.