New Delhi: US aircraft manufacturer Boeing Co is looking to bid for defence projects worth up to $31 billion over the next 10 years in India, as strategic ties between the two countries deepen.
“It is a $31 billion market for us to bid in the defence sector and rising,” Vivek Lall, India country head of Boeing’s Integrated Defense Systems (IDS), told Reuters on Wednesday.
“There is a tremendous growth prospect in India and it is no longer about buying and selling, it is now about being a fabric of the country, being a partner and a preferred partner,” Lall said in an interview in New Delhi.
The company has also submitted a bid for six medium range naval warfare aircraft contract, weeks after it signed a $2.1 billion contract for eight P-8I warfare planes.
“It is a P-8I derivative and is a good fit for the navy to consider it,” Lall said.
The Indian Navy is keen to replace its ageing fleet of aircraft with state-of-the-art fighters with latest technology.
Lall said the P-8I contract was the perfect example of how India is getting the latest technology for its defence forces.
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“It is a shining example of something unprecedented, we have the US Navy and the Indian Navy receiving the aircraft at the same time,” Lall said.
Boeing plans to make inroads into the south Asian defence market and has already submitted a bid for a contract to supply India with 126 multi-role fighter jets, potentially worth more than $10 billion.
Lall said Boeing’s India projection for defence projects could get revised as the defence sector opens up further, following a landmark Indo-US civilian nuclear deal signed last November.
The deal gave New Delhi access to civilian nuclear fuel and technology on the international market for the first time in three decades, helping boost business confidence in India.
“The bridging of the Indo-US relationship has really helped us. Things that are happening in the defence sector now, we could not think about it a few years ago,” Lall said.
India, fast becoming one of the world’s biggest arms importers, wants to modernise its air force, the fourth largest in the world, to cope with possible security threats in the region, security experts said.
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