New Delhi: American aviation giant Boeing Tuesday made a strong pitch for its F/A-18 Super Hornet fighters to be chosen by the Indian Navy as it gets ready to commission the country’s first indigenous aircraft — Vikrant —carrier next month.
“The Super Hornet Block 3 has been built for carrier aircraft operations and it is the fighter that the US Navy depends on for its operations,” said Boeing India president, Salil Gupte, in rare joint press conference along with heads of other American companies – General Electric, Raytheon, Northrop Grumman – who are part of the project.
The Boeing India chief predicted that there would be a $ 3.6-billion economic impact to the Indian aerospace and defense industry over the next 10 years, with the Super Hornets as India’s next carrier-based fighter.
“The economic impact would be over and above Boeing’s current offset obligations and plans in the country,” he said.
“The Block III Super Hornet we are offering to the Indian Navy has the most advanced and critical capability. With its open architecture design and continuously evolving capability suite, the fighter will outpace current threats, facilitate rapid capability insertion and have unmatched affordability,” Steve Parker, vice president and general manager, Bombers and Fighters, Boeing Defense, Space and Security, said.
As ThePrint earlier reported, the Navy is in the process of expediting a trial report into operational demonstration by Rafale M of French firm Dassault Aviation and F/A-18 Super Hornet.
The Navy hopes to move the procurement proposal for 26 new fighters to the defence ministry by the end of this year.
This comes as the indigenous aircraft carrier, Vikrant, is set to be commissioned early next month by Prime Minister Narendra Modi. The Navy received the delivery of the carrier on 28 July from her builder Cochin Shipyard Limited (CSL), Kochi.
Boeing India’s future plans
Asked how fast Boeing can deliver the aircraft if a contract is signed, Alain Garcia, vice president, India Business Development, Boeing Defense, Space and Security and Global Services, said the delivery usually starts within a three years time frame.
However, Parker said they will deliver it before three years depending on the Indian Navy’s requirement.
Talking about Boeing’s India plans, company chief Gupte said they plan to build on its existing industrial base and strengthen its commitment to Aatmanirbhar Bharat with continued investments in India across five pillars.
These include supply chain development and manufacturing; engineering and technology transfer; long-term support and training; infrastructure investments; and contributions of the Hornet Industry Team, comprising General Electric, Northrop Grumman and Raytheon.
He said that the new plan builds on Boeing’s annual sourcing of $1 billion from 300 suppliers on parts, assemblies and services from Indian suppliers.
The plan also envisages potential for additional manufacturing opportunities, including the F/A-18’s Outer Wing and Nose Barrel component manufacturing and assembly.
Additionally, Boeing is reviewing several hundred other machined assemblies that could be placed with Indian suppliers, he said.