Defence Expo 2020: With the view to take advantage of India’s growing defence market, US Defence and Aerospace major Boeing Thursday said that it is committed to expanding its footprint in the country that includes development of local defence industry. The company also said that its FA 18 Super Hornet combat jet is fully compatible with the ski jump aircraft carrier used by Indian Navy, adding that the fighter jet will bring transformative defence technologies to India.
“The F/A-18, on offer to the Indian Navy, is fully compatible with Indian Navy carriers and will boost the growing maritime and defence relationship between the United States and Indian navies,” Boeing said in a statement issued at Defence Expo 2020 held in Lucknow, Uttar Pradesh.
Boeing’s FA 18 Super Hornet forms the backbone of US aircraft carrier operation as over 500 F/A 18s are in the service of United States Navy. However, unlike Indian Navy, the US Navy does not operate ski jump aircraft carriers. US Navy’s aircraft carrier uses steam catapult technologies to assist the take off of the heavier fighter jets like Super Hornets.
Indian Navy deploys naval version of Russian Mig 29 fighter known as Mig 29K on its lone aircraft carrier INS Vikramaditya. The Navy will also field Mig 29Ks on its indigenous aircraft carrier INS Vikrant that is likely to complete its basin and sea trials this year.
Boeing, which hopes to sell its F/A-18 Block III Super Hornet fighter to the Indian Navy, said the combat jet will bring transformative capability and contemporary warfighter technologies to India.
“An important part of our India strategy is ensuring our defence customers have the most advanced platforms and capabilities, supported by a services model that optimizes mission readiness, high performance and safety,” said Salil Gupte, President of Boeing India.
Boeing is also competing with five other aircraft manufacturers for India’s MMRCA programme to supply more than 100 medium class fighter jets. In addition to Boeing, another US defence and aviation major Lockheed Martin has pitched its F-16 (now renamed F-21 after some modification).
While Swedish defence major Saab has pitched its single engine Gripen fighter, France’s Dassault Aviation has pitched its Rafale fighter jets and another European contender, a consortium of BAE Systems, Alenia Aermacchi, Eurofighter GmbH, Airbus Group, has offered Eurofighter Typhoon. Russia has offered its modified Mig 29, now renamed as Mig 35 fighter to Indian Air Force.
This deal is the most sought after deal for supply of fighter jets in the world as India is expected to procure more than 100 fighter jets at an estimated cost of over $15 billion.
In order to win this mega fighter jet tender, global combat jet manufacturers have offered to transfer technology to their Indian partners and, in some cases, to completely shift their assembly line to the country.
Boeing said it was committed to create sustainable value in the Indian aerospace sector, developing local suppliers, and shaping academic and research collaborations with Indian institutions.
The company said it has strengthened its supply chain with 200 partners in India, and a joint venture to manufacture fuselages for Apache helicopters.
“Annual sourcing from India stands at $1 billion. Boeing currently employs 3500 people in India, and more than 7000 people work with its supply chain partners,” said the company.