BOE­ING: & STILL COUNT­ING...

Boe­ing has emerged as the lead­ing com­pany from US on the front of Indo-US de­fence co­op­er­a­tion and part­ner­ship. The com­pany looks for­ward to take up the re­la­tion­ship also be­ing termed as strate­gic part­ner­ship to next lev­els.

SP's Aviation - - TABLE OF CONTENTS - BY AIR MAR­SHAL B.K. PANDEY (RETD)

Boe­ing has emerged as the lead­ing com­pany from US on the front of Indo-US de­fence co­op­er­a­tion and part­ner­ship. The com­pany looks for­ward to take up the re­la­tion­ship also be­ing termed as strate­gic part­ner­ship to next lev­els.

THE NEWS IN THE me­dia in the third week of Au­gust this year that the Min­istry of De­fence (MoD) had cleared a pro­posal by the In­dian Army for the ac­qui­si­tion of six AH-64E Apache at­tack he­li­copters from Boe­ing De­fense and Space of the United States (US), not only brought cheer to the ser­vice es­pe­cially in the con­text of the es­ca­lat­ing ten­sion on the Dok­lam plateau as also else­where along the Sino-In­dian bor­der, it also marked a step for­ward in the co­op­er­a­tion be­tween In­dia and the US in the regime of de­fence. Even though the num­ber cleared re­cently by the MoD is not sig­nif­i­cantly large; nev­er­the­less it is a wel­come step. The In­dian Army has pro­jected an ini­tial re­quire­ment of 39 of these plat­forms. Clear­ance for six AH-64E Apache at­tack he­li­copters, there­fore is most likely the first in­stall­ment and nod by the MoD for ad­di­tional at­tack he­li­copters for the In­dian Army ought to fol­low even be­yond the ini­tial pro­jec­tion. Hope­fully, con­tract with Boe­ing for six Apaches worth over ` 4100 crore should be con­cluded in the near fu­ture.

BOE­ING DE­FENSE, SPACE AND SE­CU­RITY

To­day, Boe­ing is the largest aerospace com­pany in the world and apart from it be­ing the lead­ing man­u­fac­turer of com­mer­cial jet­lin­ers, its De­fense, Space and Se­cu­rity wing, BDS for short and for­merly known as Boe­ing In­te­grated De­fense Sys­tems, com­mands a dom­i­nat­ing po­si­tion in the regime of de­fence, space and se­cu­rity sys­tems. Prod­ucts from BDS in­clude mil­i­tary air­craft, satel­lites, weapons, elec­tronic and de­fence sys­tems, launch sys­tems, ad­vanced in­for­ma­tion and com­mu­ni­ca­tion sys­tems, train­ing and per­for­mance-based lo­gis­tics. Boe­ing has had a long tra­di­tion of lead­er­ship in the field of aerospace and the com­pany con­tin­ues to ex­pand its prod­uct line and ser­vices to meet emerg­ing cus­tomer needs.

Although the re­la­tion­ship be­tween In­dia and Boe­ing be­gan around seven decades ago, it was con­fined to the regime of civil avi­a­tion. In an ef­fort to mod­ernise the In­dian Air Force (IAF), the gov­ern­ment ini­tially looked at Western sources for mil­i­tary air­craft and weapon sys­tems. In the 1950s, the IAF pro­cured the Vam­pire, Hunter and the Fol­land Gnat jet fight­ers from the United King­dom (UK). From Das­sault Avi­a­tion of France came the Oura­gan (re­named Toofani by the IAF) and the Mys­tere IV A jet fight­ers, all through di­rect deals with the re­spec­tive gov­ern­ments. The IAF also re­ceived light util­ity he­li­copters from Aerospa­tiale of France. The US trans­ferred a fleet of C-119 Fairchild Packet mil­i­tary trans­port air­craft, but did not sup­ply com­bat air­craft. Ow­ing to po­lit­i­cal re­align­ments and en­su­ing com­pul­sions, In­dia be­gan to lean to­wards the then Soviet Union and as a re­sult, the na­tion re­mained teth­ered to the this new source for most of mil­i­tary hard­ware.

How­ever, with the col­lapse of the Soviet Union and the emer­gence of a unipo­lar world, the IAF now had the op­por­tu­nity to ex­plore op­tions with aerospace and de­fence ma­jors in the US, the UK, the Euro­pean Union, France, Italy and Is­rael. Thus in the quest for mil­i­tary air­craft and weapon sys­tems built with mod­ern and more ad­vanced tech­nolo­gies, In­dia’s in­ter­ac­tion with Boe­ing which thus far had been re­stricted largely to the do­main of civil avi­a­tion, be­gan to ex­tend be­yond it, al­beit some­what slowly, into the regime of mil­i­tary plat­forms and hard­ware.

FIXED WING AIR­CRAFT

Although BDS was pre­pared to of­fer a wide range of so­lu­tions to meet with In­dia’s re­quire­ments in the de­fence sec­tor, the first baby steps were taken in the pe­riod 2008-09 when BDS de­liv­ered three Boe­ing Busi­ness Jets for Air Head­quar­ters Com­mu­ni­ca­tion Squadron for use by VVIPs. Mov­ing on from there, the Gov­ern­ment of In­dia signed a con­tract on Jan­uary 1, 2009 to pur­chase eight P-8I long-range, mar­itime re­con­nais­sance and anti-sub­ma­rine air­craft from Boe­ing for the In­dian Navy. The P-8I is based on the next-gen­er­a­tion Boe­ing 737 com­mer­cial jet­liner from the US aerospace ma­jor and a vari­ant of the P-8A Po­sei­don oper­ated by the US Navy. This plat­form pro­vides the In­dian Navy the ca­pa­bil­ity to carry out full range of mar­itime surveil­lance and pa­trol mis­sions. The P-8I in­cor­po­rates not only In­dia-unique de­sign fea­tures, but also In­dia-built sub­sys­tems that are tai­lored to the coun­try’s mar­itime pa­trol re­quire­ments. The first P-8I air­craft ar­rived on sched­ule in May 2013 and the re­main­ing seven air­craft were de­liv­ered on sched­ule by 2015. Quite sat­is­fied with the ca­pa­bil­i­ties and per­for­mance of the fleet of P8I, in July 2016, the In­dian Navy has placed or­ders for an­other four of these plat­forms.

In June 2011, the In­dian MoD fi­nalised an agree­ment with the US gov­ern­ment for the pro­cure­ment of ten Boe­ing C-17 Globemaster III strate­gic air­lift air­craft through their For­eign Mil­i­tary Sales (FMS) pro­gramme. The deal val­ued at around ` 18,000 crore has been the largest de­fence con­tract signed by In­dia with the US in the de­fence sec­tor so far. The first C-17 ar­rived in In­dia in June 2013 and all 10 air­lifters were de­liv­ered to the In­dian Air Force by 2015. To­day, the fleet of C-17 Globemaster III air­craft with the IAF rep­re­sents In­dia’s ca­pa­bil­ity of rapid de­ploy­ment and ex­tended reach of its strate­gic air­lift ca­pa­bil­ity. There was a pro­vi­sion in the con­tract with Boe­ing for an­other six C-17 air­craft. How­ever, on ac­count of in­or­di­nate de­lay on the part of the Gov­ern­ment of In­dia in the de­ci­sion on the sub­ject, Boe­ing has shut down its pro­duc­tion line and is un­able to meet with this re­quire­ment. In­dia is now likely to get one more C-17 that is cur­rently avail­able with Boe­ing.

THE FLEET OF C-17 GLOBEMASTER III AIR­CRAFT WITH THE IAF REP­RE­SENTS IN­DIA’S CA­PA­BIL­ITY OF RAPID DE­PLOY­MENT AND EX­TENDED REACH OF ITS STRATE­GIC AIR­LIFT CA­PA­BIL­ITY

RO­TARY WING PLAT­FORMS

In Septem­ber 2015, the Gov­ern­ment of In­dia, cleared the pur­chase of 22 AH-64 Apache at­tack he­li­copters and 15 CH-47F Chi­nook heavy lift he­li­copters for the IAF. The con­tract with Boe­ing val­ued at around $3.0 bil­lion was the sin­gle big­gest de­fence con­tract signed in the first 16 months of the NDA gov­ern­ment. The con­tract has an op­tion for fol­low-on or­ders for 11 more Apaches and four more Chi­nook he­li­copters. The deal for Apache is in two parts – one through Di­rect Com­mer­cial Sale (DCS) con­tract with Boe­ing for the at­tack he­li­copter, while the other is through FMS agree­ment with the US Gov­ern­ment for weapons, radars and elec­tronic war­fare equip­ment. The Chi­nook is be­ing ac­quired as a DCS deal as no weapons are in­volved. But what is of greater sig­nif­i­cance to the In­dian aerospace in­dus­try in the de­fence sec­tor is the an­nounce­ment by Boe­ing made in Oc­to­ber

2015 about the com­pany’s plan to man­u­fac­ture air­frame com­po­nents in In­dia for both the plat­forms, in col­lab­o­ra­tion with the aerospace in­dus­try in the pri­vate sec­tor. Boe­ing also has an­nounced their plans to as­sem­ble the two he­li­copter types in In­dia. These moves will help Boe­ing con­sol­i­date the com­pany’s po­si­tion in In­dia and pro­vide for not only the In­dian de­fence mar­ket but ac­cessto the global mar­ket as well.

COM­BAT AIR­CRAFT FOR THE IAF

In the regime of fixed wing mil­i­tary plat­forms, Boe­ing had suf­fered a mi­nor set­back when its FA/18 Su­per Hor­net twin-en­gine com­bat air­craft was fielded in re­sponse to the ten­der for 126 medium multi-role com­bat air­craft (MMRCA) for the IAF floated by the Gov­ern­ment of In­dia. While the Su­per Hor­net lost the race against the Rafale from Das­sault of France, the ten­der it­self was fi­nally can­celled leav­ing the IAF with se­ri­ous de­fi­ciency of air­craft in its com­bat fleet. Boe­ing should be back again on the In­dian scene by field­ing the F/A-18 Su­per Hor­net against the re­quire­ment of 57 car­rier-borne com­bat air­craft for the In­dian Navy pro­jected in Jan­uary this year. As per pro­nounce­ments made by the erst­while Min­is­ter of De­fence Manohar Par­rikar, In­dia would look at in­duct­ing twin-en­gine fighter air­craft for the IAF some­time in the fu­ture. Boe­ing ought to be pre­pared to field the lat­est ver­sion of the Su­per Hor­net or its suc­ces­sor as and when the ten­der for a twin-en­gine fighter is floated to meet the re­quire­ments of the IAF which is be­com­ing in­creas­ingly ur­gent by the day.

RE­SEARCH AND TECH­NOL­OGY PART­NER­SHIP

Apart from air­craft, Boe­ing has been work­ing be­hind the scene in other fields as well. On March 31, 2009, Boe­ing es­tab­lished its Re­search and Tech­nol­ogy Cen­tre-In­dia at Ben­galuru, mark­ing a ma­jor mile­stone for Boe­ing’s aerospace re­search and tech­nol­ogy ac­tiv­i­ties in In­dia. The cen­tre is the fo­cal point for all tech­nol­ogy ac­tiv­i­ties in In­dia and col­lab­o­rates with many In­dian R&D or­gan­i­sa­tions, in­clud­ing gov­ern­ment agen­cies, uni­ver­si­ties and the pri­vate sec­tor. It also works with strate­gic part­ners to de­velop high-end tech­nol­ogy so­lu­tions, par­tic­u­larly in the ar­eas of ma­te­ri­als, anal­y­sis meth­ods, man­u­fac­tur­ing and net­works. It is one of five Boe­ing ad­vanced re­search cen­tres out­side the US, the oth­ers be­ing in Aus­tralia, China and Europe

OP­POR­TU­NI­TIES AHEAD

With the sta­tus of In­dia be­ing up­graded by the US Gov­ern­ment to that of a Strate­gic Part­ner and the IAF badly in need of mod­erni­sa­tion es­pe­cially of its com­bat fleet, op­por­tu­ni­ties for Boe­ing will in­deed be lu­cra­tive.

IN­DIA BOUND: IAF WILL SOON GET 15 CH-47F CHI­NOOK HEAVY LIFT HE­LI­COPTERS

TAI­LORED FOR IN­DIA: IN­DIAN NAVY’S P-8I LONG-RANGE, MAR­ITIME RE­CON­NAIS­SANCE AND ANTI-SUB­MA­RINE AIR­CRAFT

*Cleared by MoD

CA­PA­BLE OF RAPID DE­PLOY­MENT AND STRATE­GIC AIR­LIFT: C-17 GLOBEMASTER III STRATE­GIC AIR­LIFT AIR­CRAFT

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