American aerospace major Boeing is in discussions with the Indian Air Force and the Indian Navy to build its twin-engine Super Hornet fighter aircraft in India.
In a bid to meet the forces’ fighter aircraft requirements, Boeing has pointed out that its plans for the Super Hornet in India would include building an entirely new production facility that could be utilised for other programmes such as India’s Advanced Medium Combat Aircraft programme.
Sources in the defence ministry told BusinessLine that the company appears to have jumped ahead in the queue to supply the forces, especially the Indian Navy, with new fighter jets in a deal estimated at $15 billion.
Till recently, only two contenders – Lockheed Martin’s F-16 and Saab AB’s Gripen – were in a race to supply around 100 aircraft to the Indian Air Force (IAF).
In a major twist last month, the government suddenly asked the IAF to evaluate Boeing’s F/A-18 Super Hornet, with sources stating the company was ahead in the race.
Boeing’s proposal to the government features plans to produce the Super Hornet in partnership with the private industry.
The US major is positioning the F/A-18E/F Block III Super Hornet for India.
On April 2, Boeing bagged a $1.16-billion contract for the production and delivery of 22 F/A-18E and 6 F/A-18F Super Hornets for the Kuwait Air Force.
The 22 single-seat E and 6 two-seat F variants are set to replace Kuwait’s 27 current crop of F-18C Hornet fighters.
The Kuwait contract also provides for radar warning receivers and aircraft armament equipment, and is set to run until 2022.
The Super Hornet sale to Kuwait was signed in November 2016. At that time, Kuwait was considering a purchase of up to 40 aircraft to replace its current fleet of Hornets, with estimates suggesting the sale would be upwards of $10 billion.
The Kuwait deal is one of several international buys for the Super Hornet, with potential buyers hailing from Switzerland, Finland and Germany, apart from India.
Incidentally, the Indian Navy is on the look out for 57 multi-role carrier-borne fighters (MRCBF) with an option to buy more jets. Boeing has responded to the Indian government’s global MRCBF tender to supply 57 jets to equip its aircraft carriers.