Boeing is assessing Indian defence and aerospace companies to select industrial partners in support of its bid to supply its F/A-18E/F Block III Super Hornet fighter aircraft to the Indian Navy (IN), Gene Cunningham, vice-president of Boeing Defense, Space & Security told Jane’s on 8 February.
The IN fighter requirement – the Multi-Role Carrier Borne Fighter (MRCBF) programme – features the acquisition of an initial 57 aircraft. The IN issued a request for information (RFI) to support the programme, which has an estimated cost of USD5.7 billion, in January 2017.
A key part of the MRCBF requirement will be local industrial participation in line with New Delhi’s ‘Make in India’ drive to spur manufacturing capability within the country. It is also possible that the programme will fall under India’s new Strategic Partner policy, through which the government will nominate specific private-sector companies to engage with the foreign contractor.
Commenting on the industrial element of the programme, Cunningham said Boeing is evaluating potential partners with a view to making selections possibly later this year.
“We know there will be specific requirements about the companies that will be asked to be considered for partnerships under the Strategic Partner requirements,” he said. “Our approach right now is to identify which companies make the best teammates within the structural requirements.”
He added, “There are many good companies in India with good capabilities. We are trying to make our way through the whole field and to figure what is the best fit.”
While extensive local participation in the MRCBF programme is expected, Cunningham said the details about the scope of this engagement have yet to be finalised by the Indian government. “We are not at the stage where the requirements are laid out,” he said.