Washington, January 28
US aerospace giant Boeing has identified India as one of its top markets and critical to its international growth plans, eyeing the country’s plans to buy fighter jets worth billions of dollars.
The statement of Dennis Swanson, vice president, International Sales, Boeing Global Sales and Marketing, came ahead of his visit to India’s mega defence exhibition to be held in Lucknow from February 5-9.
In April, the Indian Air Force issued an initial tender to acquire 114 jets at a cost of around USD 18 billion, billed as one of the world’s biggest military procurement in recent years.
The top contenders for the deal include Lockheed’s F-21, Boeing’s F/A-18, Dassault Aviation’s Rafale, the Eurofighter Typhoon, Russian aircraft Mig 35 and Saab’s Gripen.
“India is one of the top markets for Boeing and critical to our international growth plans. As one of the fastest growing economies in the world, India offers growth and productivity opportunities, as well as talent and technology innovation advantages,” Swanson told PTI on Monday.
Boeing has established a growing defence installation base, invested in manufacturing, skill development and engineering in India, and contributed to developing the aerospace and defence ecosystem that is being built on technology advancement and innovation, said Swanson, who is co-leading a high-powered delegation of US India Business Council to ‘DefExpo 2020’ along with David Sutton, director for the Indo-Pacific, Lockheed Martin International.
Over 1,000 companies from nearly 70 countries will take part in the biggest-ever DefExpo to be held in Lucknow from February 5-9, according to a Defence Ministry statement in New Delhi.
Responding to a question on India’s multi-billion fighter jet acquisition deal, Swanson said that Boeing’s F/A-18 Super Hornet is the latest Block III configuration that offers India the latest technologies and capabilities.
“Our F/A-18 Super Hornet Block III offers the Indian Navy a unique and differentiated capability in the form of an advanced, combat proven, multi-role naval fighter that is fully compatible with the Indian Navy carriers and would boost the growing maritime and defence relationship between the US and India,” he said.
Designed as a carrier-based fighter for high-loading, high-stress operations with minimal support equipment required, the Super Hornet Block III is fully compliant with and ideally suited for the Indian Navy’s carrier deck, and as demonstrated in flight trials, it can take off from Indian aircraft carriers via ski jump. It is also compatible with air refuelling tankers operated around the world, Swanson said.
Defence Minister Rajnath Singh in December had visited Naval Air Station Oceana on the invitation of the US government and toured the F/A-18 squadron and sat in an aircraft. PTI
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