Boeing 'actively pursuing' sale of F/A-18 fighters to India

Chicago: Boeing has said it is "actively pursuing" the sale of multi-role combat aircraft to India, which is expected to commit at least $30 billion towards defence procurement over the next five years.

"We are actively pursuing the sale of F-18 Super Hornets," Rick Stephens, senior vice president of The Boeing Company, said at the FICCI-US Indian Business Council summit in Chicago.

The Hornets are competing with the F-16, the Eurofighter Typhoon, the Russian MiG-35 and the French Rafale jet fighters for Indian Air Force's 126 medium range multi role combat aircraft tender.

Stephens also said that his company was keen to sell P-8I maritime patrol aircraft, Chinooks and Apache helicopters, and C-17s heavy lift aircraft to India as well.

He pointed out that India was emerging as a country of strategic importance to Boeing not just because of the growing defence and aviation deals on offer from in country. "We want to see India become a critical link in our global supply chain," Stephens said.

He also said that Boeing, in partnership with Air India, would build a $75 million Alteon pilot training centre in India. Alteon, a wholly owned subsidiary of Boeing, supports airline training needs by offering flight and maintenance training in the 100-plus seat aircraft category.

Boeing entered into an agreement last month with the Tatas to build floor beams for the 787 Dreamliner using new technology with advanced titanium and composite materials. This would help reduce the weight of the airplane.