Boeing Keen to Make F/A-18 Fighters in India

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New Delhi: Aircraft maker Boeing has offered to manufacture its F/A-18 fighter jets — the mainstay of the US navy — in India through the government’s Make in India programme, taking another stab at winning a potential multi-billion contract from one of the world’s biggest military spenders.

for the F18 fighter jet as an area where we can build industrial capacity, supply chain partnerships, technical depth, design and manufacturing capability in India, providing an operational capability that is useful for Indian defence forces,” Boeing Chief Executive Officer Dennis A Muilenburg said in New Delhi on Tuesday.

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“Make in India is an enabler aligned with that strategy,” said Muilenburg.

The F/A-18 lost out in the government’s medium multi-role fighter aircraft (MMRCA) procurement programme — designed to replace ageing Indian Air Force jets — to French company Dassault Aviation’s Rafale fighter jets. But the Rafale deal for 36 planes, estimated to be worth $9 billion, has been stuck over negotiations over price.

Boeing’s latest offer to help the government create an industrial ecosystem to build its fighter planes signals it sees an opportunity in the delays over the Rafale deal. Military officials and Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar have said the government is open to buying an alternative fighter jet.

“Our intent here is to build an industrial framework for the long run that builds on the aerospace investments being made not only by programme by programme, but also by long-term industrial capacity that is globally competitive,” said Muilenburg, who is visiting India for the first time since becoming CEO of the $91-billion aerospace giant last July.

The government has long been looking to end its reliance on foreign arms makers and create a homegrown military manufacturing sector. The Make in India manufacturing programme is expected to be a springboard to these efforts. The F/A-18 Super Hornet is a twinengine, supersonic, all weather multi-role fighter jet capable of landing and taking off from an aircraft carrier, according to the Boeing website.

Muilenburg also said Boeing is in talks with low-cost airline SpiceJetBSE 1.03 % for a potentially large plane order. “We are engaged in a dialogue with them and the new Max (Boeing 737 Max) is a very compelling value proposition.”

ET

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