Boeing entered into an agreement with Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL) and Mahindra Defence Systems for manufacturing F/A-18 Super Hornet fighter jets in India. The deal happened on the second day of the ongoing Defence Expo.
Boeing India president Pratyush Kumar, HAL Chairman and Managing Director T Suvarna Raju, and Mahindra Defence Systems Chairman S P Shukla exchanged a Memorandum of Agreement for ‘Make in India fighter’.
The proposal entails building a production facility in the country that can be utilised for other projects, like India’s Advanced Medium Combat Aircraft (AMCA) programme, said a statement by Boeing.
“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 aeroplanes, 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 and defence manufacturing in India,” said Pratyush Kumar.
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.
“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,” the company statement further said.
The partnership will also work for the joint development of future technologies in India, Boeing said. The company, however, did not disclose how much it will invest in India under its deal with HAL and Mahindra Defence.
Boeing said the partnership is meant for production of an affordable, combat-proven fighter platform for India. The company said the deal will result in 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 Boeing 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, the company added.
“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.
HAL 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.
This partnership is in preparation for a tender for 110 fighter aircraft from Indian Air Force (IAF). Boeing is among the leading contenders likely to vie for the deal which could be worth more than $15 billion.
An RFI (Request for Information) or initial tender for the deal was issued on April 6 with officials saying that the procurement would adhere to 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.
Other companies expected to contend for the IAF tender include Lockheed Martin, Airbus, and Saab AB. Lockheed Martin had formed a partnership with Tata Advanced Systems back in 2017 to produce F-16 aircraft.>