Boeing submits F/A-18 proposal to equip Indian Air Force

April 25th, 2008 - 7:39 am ICT by admin  

A file-photo of F-16

New Delhi, April 24 (IANS) The Boeing Company Thursday delivered a detailed 7,000-page proposal offering its advanced F/A-18E/F Super Hornet to the Indian Air Force as part of India’s medium multi-role combat aircraft (MMRCA) acquisition. The proposal was delivered to the US embassy here that will formally turn over the Boeing-US Navy submission to the Indian defence ministry Friday or Monday. The delivery of the first F/A-18IN Super Hornets can begin approximately 36 months after contract award, the company said.

“Our proposal team worked diligently to fully understand and meet the requirements set out by the Indian ministry of defence (MoD). We are offering India the best-value, most advanced and proven multi-role combat fighter in production today,” said Jim Albaugh, president and CEO of Boeing Integrated Defence Systems (IDS).

India issued a request for proposal (RFP) for 126 multi-role combat fighters in August 2007. Boeing completed its proposal before the initial March 3 deadline, which the MoD rescheduled for April 28.

Five other aircraft - the US Lockheed Martin F-16, the Eurofighter Typhoon manufactured by a European conglomerate, the Russian MiG-35, the Swedish Gripen, and the French Rafale - are also in the fray. Their manufacturers are expected to deliver their RFPs by Monday.

“Boeing’s strategic goal has been to seek a long-term partnership with India to help strengthen the country’s aerospace capabilities and enhance its national security,” said Chris Chadwick, president of Boeing Precision Engagement and Mobility Systems.

“Choosing the F/A-18E/F would give Indians a direct hand in building an advanced fighter aircraft that will robustly defend their shores and airspace, infuse new strength into the Indian Air Force, and serve as a catalyst for India’s growing defence aerospace industry,” he added.

The Super Hornet variant being offered to India, the F/A-18IN, is based on the F/A-18E/F model flown by the US Navy and currently being built for the Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF). Advanced technology - such as Raytheon’s APG-79 active electronically scanned array (AESA) radar - and proven reliability are drawing US and international customers’ increasing interest in the aircraft as a cost-effective and lethal air defence platform, a Boeing statement said.

Boeing has delivered more than 340 Super Hornets to the US Navy. Australia has ordered 24 Super Hornets to bolster its fleet of F/A-18 Hornets, and Boeing is in discussions with several other international customers about their interest in procuring the Super Hornet.

“One of the concerns here in India is the cost of owning and maintaining combat fighters over their lifetime,” said Vivek Lall, Boeing IDS vice-president and India country head. “The F/A-18E/F Super Hornet offers a very attractive life-cycle-cost dynamic, since the fighter won’t need a scheduled visit to a maintenance depot until it has clocked a minimum of 6,000 hours of flying time, and even well beyond that,” he added.

Over the past 36 months, Boeing IDS has reached out to the Indian aerospace and technology sectors to identify potential public and private industrial partners. To date, it has signed long-term partnership agreements with Hindustan Aeronautics Ltd, Tata Industries, and Larson and Toubro.

“If the F/A-18IN Super Hornet is selected, these companies and others are expected to play a significant role as Boeing transfers some production and assembly to India,” the Boeing statement said.

A unit of The Boeing Company, Boeing IDS, is one of the world’s largest space and defence businesses specialising in innovative and capabilities-driven customer solutions. Headquartered in St. Louis, Boeing IDS is a $32.1 billion business with 71,000 employees worldwide.

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