Boeing keen to make F/A-18 fighters in India: CEO Dennis A Muilenburg

NEW DELHI, Feb 03 (INP: Aircraft maker Boeing has offered to manufacture its F/A-18 fighter jets — the mainstay of the US navy — in India through the government’s Make in India programme, taking another stab at winning a potential multi-billion contract from one of the world’s biggest military spenders, Times of India reported.

“We are taking a hard look at the opportunity for the F18 fighter jet as an area where we can build industrial capacity, supply chain partnerships, technical depth, design and manufacturing capability in India, providing an operational capability that is useful for Indian defence forces,” Boeing chief executive officer Dennis A Muilenburg said in New Delhi on Tuesday.

“Make in India is an enabler aligned with that strategy,” said Muilenburg.

The F/A-18 lost out in the government’s medium multi-role fighter aircraft (MMRCA) procurement programme — designed to replace ageing Indian Air Force jets — to French company Dassault Aviation’s Rafale fighter jets. But the Rafale deal for 36 planes, estimated to be worth $9 billion, has been stuck over negotiations over price.

Boeing’s latest offer to help the government create an industrial ecosystem to build its fighter planes signals it sees an opportunity in the delays over the Rafale deal. Military officials and Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar have said the government is open to buying an alternative fighter jet.

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