Boeing takes on Indian partners to manufacture fighter planes
New Delhi — Boeing will partner with India’s state-run Hindustan Aeronautics and Mahindra Defence Systems for local manufacture of its F/A-18 Super Hornet that it is offering for a large Indian fighter acquisition programme, the US company said on Thursday.
Last week, India issued a request for information for 110 combat jets for the air force, marking the first step toward a long-delayed deal that could be worth more than $15bn.
The planes have to be built locally as part of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s "Make in India" drive to build a domestic industrial base.
Boeing said it stood ready to build an aerospace manufacturing system in India along with its partners that will help India’s own aircraft manufacturing programmes.
"The Super Hornet ‘Make in India’ proposal is to build an entirely new and state-of-the-art production facility that can be utilised for other programmes such as India’s advanced medium combat aircraft (AMCA) programme," Boeing said in a statement during an Indian defence exhibition in the southern city of Chennai.
Lockheed Martin Saab and Dassault Aviation are among the manufacturers expected to compete for the air force order, one of the world’s biggest fighter jet deals in play at the moment, industry experts say.
Lockheed, which has offered to move its F-16 production line in Fort Worth, Texas, to India, is partnering with India’s Tata Advanced Systems to build the planes. Sweden’s Saab has said it will build the planes in collaboration with the Adani Group, a resources conglomerate.
The air force tender will be open for makers of both single- and twin-engined combat jets, in a widening of the field. The Eurofighter Typhoon and Russian aircraft are also potential contenders under the new requirements.
Boeing’s Super Hornet is also competing for a separate order for 57 carrier-borne fighter jets that the navy is seeking.