Washington: Indian companies could play a key role in Boeing Co.’s global supply chain for both commercial aircraft and military sales, Boeing’s chief executive said.
Companies already supplying software and information technology to the commercial side “could become a significant part of the total Boeing enterprise, including our Integrated Defense Systems business”, said Jim McNerney, Boeing’s chairman, president and CEO.
“I hope they do,” he added, while accepting an award from the US-India Business Council.
As potential beneficiaries he singled out Tata Consultancy Services Ltd., Wipro Technologies, a unit of Wipro Ltd. Infosys Technologies Ltd. and HCL Technologies Ltd.
Chicago-based Boeing has been vying for position in India with rival US contractors amid the two countries’ post-Cold War push toward a “strategic partnership” that many analysts view as a potential counterweight to China’s growing clout.
The Bush administration announced plans last month to sell India six C-130J cargo planes -- built by Boeing rival Lockheed Martin Corp. -- in what would be the first major US military aircraft deal with India.
Boeing is now pitted against Bethesda, Maryland-based Lockheed Martin plus companies from Russia and Europe to sell India as many as 126 advanced multi-role fighter jets in a deal that could be worth more than $8 billion.
Boeing’s candidate aircraft is the radar-evading F/A-18 E/F Super Hornet. Lockheed is offering its F-16 Fighting Falcon.
“I want to emphasize that India has the potential to become a critical link in the Boeing global supply chain on both sides of the company,” McNerney said in his speech.
He said Boeing, the Pentagon’s biggest supplier after Lockheed Martin, had been actively and openly working to persuade Congress to back a milestone US-Indian nuclear energy deal.
The deal, signed in 2005, would allow sales of US nuclear equipment and fuel to India. It would end a three-decade ban on such trade with New Delhi, which has not signed the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty and has tested nuclear weapons despite US objections.
Boeing had no direct economic stake in the sale of civilian nuclear equipment to India, but sees the deal as the cornerstone of growing strategic bilateral ties, McNerney said.
Just as the door was now open for US companies to compete in the Indian defense market, “the door is also open for Indian companies to partner with leading US defense companies”, he said.