Boeing Pushes the Envelope at Aero India
By WENDELL MINNICK, BANGALORE
Boeing will propose its F/A-18E/F Super Hornet — and the right to co-produce it — in hopes of beating out Russia’s MiG-35 in the quest to supply 126 Multi-Role Combat Aircraft (MRCA) to the Indian Air Force.
A request for proposal is expected this year, with competition and evaluation beginning next year, and a contract award in 2009.
“Competition is going to be fierce,” but Boeing has high hopes, said Mark Kronenberg, the vice president for Asia-Pacific business development of Boeing Integrated Defense Systems. “It’s a potential $6 billion to $11 billion contract for the F/A-18, depending on the requirements.”
The jet is just one of several major contracts Boeing is seeking, mostly against Russian competition; in all, the company believes it could have Indian sales of up to $15 billion over the next 10 to 15 years, Kronenberg said.
“India has the third-largest defense budget and it is expected to grow 7 percent annually over the next five years,” he said.
Boeing is offering the P-8I Multi-Mission Maritime Aircraft for India’s eight-plane Multi-Mission Maritime Aircraft contract. Competition and evaluation is expected this year with an anticipated contract award in 2009. The company is also pitting the CH-47 Chinook helicopter against Russia’s Mil-17 for India’s planned purchase of 12 heavy-lift helicopters. Competition and evaluation is expected in 2007 or 2008 with a contract award in 2008.
On Jan. 5, India released a request for proposals for a contract to arm Jaguar fighters with anti-ship missiles; Boeing responded by offering 20 Harpoon missiles for an estimated $40 million.
Boeing is also talking to India’s Navy about supplying the T-45 Goshawk training system for carrier aircraft trainers — Indian pilots now train on the Goshawk under a cooperative program with the U.S. Navy — but a request for proposal is still pending.
“The fact that it’s being allowed is a significant change in the U.S.-India relationship,” said Anil Shrikhande, vice president and country head, Boeing Integrated Defense Systems.
Shrikhande believes that the renewed U.S.-India relationship in strategic terms will improve the company’s chances.
Boeing hopes to squeeze out Russian and European competition by offering partnerships with Indian companies and drawing them into Boeing’s global supply chain, he said.
In December 2003, Boeing established a subsidiary, Boeing International Corporation India Private Limited (BICIPL).
Boeing has a headquarters in New Delhi, a field office in Mumbai, and partnerships in Kanpur, Hyderabad and here, he said.
“Industrial participation in India is important,” said Daniel Korte, Integrated Defense Systems’ vice president for supplier management and production. “Boeing seeks areas of collaboration with Indian companies, agencies and organizations for mutual long-term benefits. Boeing seeks to work with India’s public and private aerospace industries to expand supplier network and contribute to the visions for the future. Shaping long-term relationships with local industry and finalizing commercial offset agreements is Boeing’s goal.”
This program includes relationships with Indian universities. In 2005, Boeing established a working relationship with the Indian Institute of Science here, which focuses on structural technologies. This is part of an effort by Boeing to find new ways to reduce weight and costs of the aircraft manufacturing process.
Boeing’s research and development arm, Phantom Works, has also been working with India’s National Aerospace Laboratory on wind tunnel technology.