Raytheon sees ‘exciting times’ in India’s defence market

February 16th, 2008 - 10:50 am ICT by admin  

A file-photo of F-16
By Vishnu Makhijani
New Delhi, Feb 16 (IANS) US defence major Raytheon sees “exciting times” ahead as the Indian armed forces plan to spend some Rs.155 billion (nearly $4 billion) on their modernization over the next five years. And it will be here “for the long haul”. “You’d be mad if you didn’t say that. There are exciting times ahead but there are also patient times ahead,” Mark R. Nicol, regional director (Asia Pacific) of Raytheon Missile Systems, said.

“It’s all about building relationships and we’re committed to that. We really are here for the long haul,” the Tuscon-based Nicol told IANS in an interview.

In this context, he noted that Raytheon, which has had a significant footprint in India’s civil aviation domain for some 60 years, had opened its office here 12 years ago and had stayed on in spite of the sanctions The US had imposed in the wake of the 1998 nuclear tests.

“We were here even when the sanctions were on. So we’re committed,” said Nicol, who is here with a business delegation for the DEFEXPO-2008 international military exposition that opened Saturday and will run till Tuesday.

“There’s so much opportunity, so what we can do as marketers is address those opportunities and say we think this is the best product but it’s not our decision (what you buy) but we want to tell you about it,” he added.

At DEFEXPO, Raytheon will focus on its battle proven systems like the Javelin fire-and-forget missile that is fired from a TOW Improved Target Acquisition System (ITAS) “because the Indian Army is quite big”.

On the naval side, the company will be leveraging on the Phalanx Close-In Weapon System (CIWS) that is mounted on the troop carrier INS Jalashva the Indian Navy acquired from the US last year.

“Then, there’s the new SeaRAM (missile), which is basically taking the gun out of the Phalanx and putting in the missile,” Nicol said.

“It’s an opportunity to demonstrate how good it is and perhaps we can move into the rest of the (navy) fleet with upgrades and all sorts of things. It’s a leverage point for us,” he said.

“And then, of course, there’s the MRCA”, the multi-role combat aircraft that the Indian Air Force has floated a global tender for 126 jets.

“Depending on who is chosen, we’ll have the opportunity hopefully to have some of our weapons systems under the wings of whatever aircraft is selected,” the official said.

In this context, he noted that Raytheon missiles are mounted on four of the six aircraft that are in contention - the US F-16 and F/A-18 Super Hornet, the Swedish Grippen and the Eurofighter Typhoon that is manufactured by a four-nation European consortium.

The other two aircraft are the French Rafale and the Russian MiG-35.

“For the MRCA, we have the AMRAM, the Sidewinder, the Harm, the Paveway, and the Maverick. We have a great portfolio and we’re looking forward to that opportunity,” Nicol said.

At the same time, he noted: “We’re not trying to come into India and sort of change the road overnight. We’re saying we’d like to prove ourselves and move forward.”

Raytheon, with 2007 sales of $21.3 billion, is a technology leader specializing in defence, homeland security and other government markets throughout the world.

With a history of innovation spanning more than 85 years, Raytheon provides state-of-the-art electronics, mission systems integration and other capabilities in the areas of sensing; effects; and command, control, communications and intelligence systems, as well as a broad range of mission support services.

With headquarters in Waltham, Massachusetts, Raytheon employs 72,000 people worldwide.

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