Washington: US aerospace major Boeing has said its F/A-18 Super Hornet fighter jet can help India grow its aerospace ecosystem which can be utilised for its advanced medium combat aircraft programme.
Boeing’s current F/A-18 production involves 60,000 jobs and 800 suppliers in 44 states in the US and this can be replicated in India, Thom Breckenridge, vice president, global sales, Boeing India, told PTI in an interview, as the company seeks to enter India’s fighter jet bidding process.
Eyeing the mega Indian Air Force’s contract for 110 fighter jets, Boeing has recently tied up with Mahindra Defence System and state-owned Hindustan Aeronautics Ltd (HAL) for producing F/A-18 Super Hornets.
Breckenridge said that the Super Hornet is a platform that is continuously evolving to outpace future threats. “Every two years, Boeing and its industry partners along with the US Navy work on delivering new capabilities to the fighter. Critical mission systems such as the radar, mission computers and sensors continue to evolve to match up to the mission profiles of the future," he said.
As the most advanced and lowest cost fighter per flight hour, the F/A-18 Super Hornet will deliver next-gen superiority and survivability to India, he said. “By assembling, testing, and certifying this aircraft at a state-of-the-art Factory of the Future in India, Boeing will help grow the country’s aerospace ecosystem," he said.
Observing that Super Hornet brings the latest generation of technologies to the warfare, he said that with designed-in stealth and robust capability growth plan, it is the best aircraft to get to India’s Advanced Medium Combat Aircraft programme.
“Boeing is also committed to expanding its partnership by producing Super Hornets in India, further developing the country’s aerospace ecosystem. Boeing will work closely with Indian industry to ensure they have the very latest technologies, applying lessons learned from the current Super Hornet production line," he said.
Boeing, he said, is prepared to bring its global scale and supply chain, its best-in-industry precision manufacturing processes, as well as the company’s unrivaled experience designing and optimising aerospace production facilities to both expand India’s aerospace ecosystem and help realise the ‘Make in India’ vision.
He said that Boeing and its current industry partners are having robust discussions with suppliers in India about building Super Hornets. “We have talked to over 400 Indian companies as part of our partner evaluation process for various systems and subsystems of Super Hornet," Breckenridge said.
Responding to a question on Boeing’s partnership with Mahindra Defense Systems (MDS) and HAL, he said that this is to deliver affordable, combat-proven fighter capabilities with growth potential for the Indian warfighter and industrial capability to build India’s aerospace industry.
“A Boeing-HAL-MDS partnership will transform India’s aerospace and defense ecosystem by manufacturing F/A-18 Super Hornets in India and developing future technologies jointly, building on ‘Make in India’," Breckenridge said.
“We have taken a dual approach of making equity and non-equity investments as part of our partner strategy for India. Boeing will continue to invest millions of dollars in supplier development, training, tooling and quality systems and skill development at our Indian suppliers," Breckenridge said.