Eying the mega IAF contract for 110 fighter jets, Boeing today announced a partnership with PSU Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL) and Mahindra Defence Systems (MDS) for manufacturing the F/A-18 Super Hornet in India.
The US aerospace major said the partnership will also work for joint development of future technologies in India, saying it will transform India's aerospace and defence ecosystem.
The Super Hornet 'Make in India' proposal is to build an entirely new and state-of-the-art production facility that can be utilized for other programme like India's Advanced Medium Combat Aircraft (AMCA) programme, the company said in a statement.
"Boeing is excited to team up with India's only company that manufactures combat fighters, HAL, and India's only company that manufactures small commercial airplanes, Mahindra.
"This partnership brings the best of Indian public and private enterprises together in partnership with the world's largest aerospace company, Boeing, to accelerate a contemporary 21st century ecosystem for aerospace & defence manufacturing in India, said Pratyush Kumar, the president of Boeing India.
The announcement was made on the second day of the Defence Expo here. Boeing is among the leading military aircraft producers like Lockheed Martin, Saab, Dassault and Russian Aircraft Corporation MiG that are likely to vie for the deal to supply 110 fighter jets to the IAF in one of the biggest such procurement in recent years globally which could be worth over USD 15 billion.
An RFI (Request for Information) or initial tender for the mega deal was issued by the Indian Air Force (IAF) on April 6 with officials saying that the procurement would be in sync with the government's 'Make in India' initiative in the defence sector.
Aircraft manufacturers have to send their proposals by July 6. Officials had said the jets will be produced jointly by a foreign aircraft maker along with an Indian company under the recently-launched strategic partnership model which aims to bring in high-end defence technology to India.
Noting that HAL has always been at the forefront of aerospace development in India, its chairman T Suvarna Raju today said the partnership will create an opportunity to strengthen indigenous platforms in India thereby contributing to the Make-in-India activities.
According to the company, the programs under progress at HAL include production of SU-30 MKI, Hawk-AJT, Light Combat Aircraft (LCA), Dhruv-ALH and Cheetah/Chetak helicopters Boeing said the partnership will for production of an affordable, combat-proven fighter platform for India, while adding it will result growth momentum to the Indian aerospace ecosystem with manufacturing, skill development, innovation and engineering and job creation.
As the most advanced and least expensive aircraft per flight hour of its kind, the F/A-18 Super Hornet will deliver on India's need for a carrier and land based multi-role fighter, the company said, it said.
"The Super Hornet does not only have a low acquisition cost, but it costs less per flight hour to operate than any other tactical aircraft in U.S. forces inventory. And with a plan for constant innovation, the F/A-18 Super Hornet will outpace threats, bolster defence capabilities and make India stronger for decades to come," it said.
The F/A-18 Super Hornet has a long life ahead, with the US Navy making significant investments in the latest evolution, the Block III, Boeing noted. Kumar said that partnership with HAL and Mahindra will enable Boeing India to optimize the full potential of the country's public and private sector to deliver next-generation F/A-18 fighter capabilities.
Future production with Indian partners will involve maximizing indigenous content and producing the F/A-18 in India for its armed forces to create a 21st century aerospace ecosystem, the statement from Boeing said.
The plan addresses the infrastructure, personnel training, and operational tools and techniques required to produce a next gen fighter aircraft right here in India. In addition, Boeing will work closely with India industry to ensure they have the very latest technologies, applying lessons learned from the current Super Hornet production line, it said.
Boeing is the world's largest aerospace company and leading manufacturer of commercial jetliners, defence, space and security systems, and service provider of aftermarket support.
"We are excited about the opportunities that this partnership with Boeing and HAL will provide for us to contribute further to 'Make in India' for defence," said S P Shukla, Group President, Aerospace & Defence, Mahindra Group, and Chairman, Mahindra Defence Systems.