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Published on : Apr 13, 2018

In one of the world’s largest fighter jet procurement deals, the Boeing Company announced on April 12, 2018 that it has entered into an agreement with India’s state-owned Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL) and private sector Mahindra Defence Systems for locally manufacturing the combat jet F/A-18E/F Super Hornet. Recently, India has issued inquiry through tenders requesting combat fighter jets in either of two models: 57 multi-role carrier borne fighters (MRCBF) for the Navy and multi-role fighter jets for the Air Force. The deals will come in force under Make in India program espoused by the Prime Minister of India for building and expanding state-of-the-art production facility in the nation to support not just this program but similar combat programs. The much-awaited deal could be worth over US$12 Bn.

The Boeing-HAL-Mahindra partnership is unique of sorts and is flexible enough to take any of the players to occupy the lead role in the consortium. Boeing expresses profuse excitement in entering into such a partnership, stating the collaboration to lend significant competitive benefits. The international French aircraft manufacturer Dassault Aviation SA, Swiss manufacturer Saab Automobile AB, and U.S. defense contractor Lockheed Martin are considered as potential suitors to the air force fighter jet deals.

Partnership to bring down Cost of Fighter Jets

Lockheed and Saab has already partnered with Tata Advanced Systems and the Adani group respectively to build the planes in India under the strategic partner (SP) category. Of note, Lockheed offered to move its F-16 production line from Fort Worth, Texas, to India. The partnership will reduce the costing in building of Super Hornet as the partnership will take advantage of the large airfield and manufacturing hangars HAL has in Bengaluru. However, the place of manufacturers is still to be decided by the partners.

The tender also covers single engine and twin-engined combat jets and will draw tenders.