New Delhi: Boeing Co. will start manufacturing and handing over made in India Apache AH-64E multi-role attack helicopter fuselages from next year, the company said on Monday.
India bought 22 Apaches and 15 Chinook heavy-lift helicopters worth $3 billion for the Indian Air Force (IAF) under a government-to-government deal with the US in 2015. This month it ordered six additional Apache AH-64E helicopters valued at Rs4,168 crore for the Indian Army.
Boeing will make the helicopter fuselage at Tata Advanced Systems’ Hyderabad facility which will be ready by end of the year and the fuselage will then be taken to the US for fitting before being sent to customers. While the first Apaches for Indian Air Force will be delivered in 2019 and are being built in the US and other places, the Indian Army Apache will be made locally.
“We are ahead of schedule,” said Pratyush Kumar, president of Boeing India, referring to the production with the Tata firm, said at a press briefing in the capital on Monday. Boeing has won contracts worth about $14 billion from India over the past few years, including for the supply of C17 Globemaster transport planes, Harpoon missiles, P-8 anti-submarine warfare jets, Apaches and Chinooks.
In lieu of that, it has an offset obligation to source products and services worth about 30% of the contract value from India. A lot of work being undertaken by Indian firms is the result of this offset, but Boeing stresses that it is here for the long term. Marc Allen, president of Boeing International, told Mint in an interview last month that the firm was casting its “anchor deep into India” and more announcements are likely soon.
The next target for Boeing is to clinch an Indian Navy deal. Boeing’s F-18, French Rafale, Swedish Saab Sea Gripen, Russian MiG-29K are contenders for a proposed $15 billion purchase of 57 fighter aircraft by the Indian Navy. Boeing expects movement on the deal by next year.
“We submitted our RFI (request for information) in May and from what we understand they will evaluate the RFP (request for proposal) by end of this year and perhaps come up with RFP or EOI (expression of interest) sometime early next year,” Boeing’s Kumar said.
Boeing said it has evaluated 400 suppliers who could supply to a F-18 line that could come up in India if it wins the order. The current line in St Louis, US, will not be shut down.
With respect to concerns over whether F-18s will be compatible with Indian aircraft carriers which are mostly of Russian origin, Boeing said simulations had been conducted and it was sure the planes would be able to use the carriers and with a “meaningful” weapons payload.The actual trials are still some time away.
India was the world’s fifth highest defence spender in 2016 with a total expenditure of $55.9 billion, up 8.5% from the previous year, according to Stockholm International Peace Research Institute.