Boeing, the second largest defense contractor in the world and the largest global aircraft manufacturer has offered to set up F/A-18 Super Hornet fighters production facility in India. Given the positive trend in Indo-US defense ties, the Transfer of Technology (ToT) would not be a problem for the company. “India-US relationship is uniquely positioned and we are working on setting up a new production facility for building the next generation aircraft in India. We have a robust ToT plan,” said Dan Gillian, vice president of F/A-18 and E/A-18 programs at Boeing.
The Indian Navy plans to purchase 57 multi-role carrier-borne fighters worth billions of dollars. The companies would need to manufacture the aircrafts with Indian private players under technology transfer. French Rafale of Dassault Aviation, F/A-18 Super Hornet of US based Boeing MIG-29K of Russia, F-35B and F-35C of Lockheed Martin, US and Gripen from Saab, Sweden are the major competitors for the deal.
Earlier, the Indian Air Force (IAF) issued a request for information (RFI) in April to purchase 114 MMRCA worth 20 billion dollars. The companies would need to manufacture the aircrafts with Indian private players under technology transfer. Saab JAS 39 Gripen, Boeing F/A-18E and F/A-18F Super Hornet (United States), MiG-35 (Russia), F-16 (United States) and Eurofighter Typhoon are among the major competitors for the deal.
Dan Gillian praised the capabilities of Super Hornet and said that US Navy is making big investment in the aircraft. “The Super Hornet is the most advanced fighter that India could manufacture here and this will help the Indian side to make the AMCA (Advanced Medium Combat Aircraft) air plane,” said Gillian. The company would set up the production facility if it wins the aircraft deals of Indian Air Force and Indian Navy. The IAF has plan to buy 114 MMRCA while Indian Navy will purchase 57 multi-role carrier-borne fighters in upcoming years.
The Boeing already purchases parts from many Indian suppliers and the indigenous content will go up if India purchases F/A-18 for the armed forces. “Depending on the order from the Indian side for the F/A-18 Super Hornet, the number of suppliers can go up higher and we are already in talks with them as all of this depends on the requirements,” said Gillian. The company has already tied up with Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL), Mahindra Defence Systems (MDS) and purchases building parts with more than 160 domestic suppliers.
The purchase of 114 MMRCA and 57 aircrafts for Indian Navy would prepare India for a two front war with China and Pakistan. A few months back, Army Chief General Bipin Rawat had said that India should be prepared for a two front war. The gradual mingling of China and Pakistan could lead to a breakout of wars on two fronts with our two neighbors. The development of the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) and magnitude of Chinese loans to the debt-ridden country suggest that Pakistan is on its way to becoming a colony of China. So, for all practical purposes, the interests of Pakistan will be the interests of China in the upcoming years.