As aircraft competing for the Indian Air Force's 126 multi-role combat aircraft tender, such as the Russian MiG-35, Swedish JAS-39, the Eurofighter Typhoon, American Lockheed Martin's F-16 and the French Rafale ready themselves for an appearance at the Bangalore-based Aero India 2007 show, American aerospace major Boeing has made its intentions regarding the tender very clear by offering its contender, the F/A-18F Super Hornet, for joint production in the country - if it should win the contract.
Conceding that the Hornet faced very strong competition from other contenders, Chris Chadwick, vice president and general manager, Global Strike Systems, Boeing, has said, that in case Boeing wins the contract, it will enter into a joint production arrangement with an Indian defence contractor.
If Boeing should bag the contract, India will also become the first country outside the US to produce the aircraft. Production of the Hornet will also mark a change in product portfolio for Indian aerospace giant, Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL), which is producing the Sukhoi-30MKI and the Anglo-French Jaguar aircraft. Earlier, HAL has also produced the MiG-series of Russian fighters, at its Nashik based plant.
According to reports, Boeing has offered the first eight aircraft off-the-shelf, with the remainder to be produced jointly. With respect to the upcoming Bangalore-based aero show, Boeing has said that it will have one Hornet performing aerobatics, while another would be on static display.
Along with the Super Hornet, Boeing's C-17 Globemaster strategic lift transport and the Chinook CH-47 helicopter troop carrier, as well as a large scale model of the P8I maritime reconnaissance aircraft - its current offering to the Indian Navy - will also be on display.
The IAF's MRCA contract is expected to be worth between $6-11 billion in its entirety.
As per newly laid down arms procurement policies, all deals worth over Rs3 billion come under the provision of an offset clause that will ensure that 30 per cent of the deal value has to be reinvested in India.
Even as the clause has become a bit of a 'sticking point' with some foreign companies, Boeing has declared that it is comfortable with the offset provisions.