With Indian armed forces looking at a possible USD 50 billion worth of purchases in the next five years, US major Boeing has set its eyes on garnering a large chunk of that pie which includes the IAF's and Navy's requirements of airborne early warning system and mid-air refuellers.
Boeing's vice president and India head Vivek Lall told PTI that his company had already carried out a briefing for the Navy and IAF on its B 737-700 platform AEW&C, apart from receiving the IAF's tenders for the refuellers.
The two deals are estimated to be worth over USD one billion each. "Boeing has briefed the Indian Navy and the Indian Air Force about Airborne Early Warning and Command (AEW&C) aircraft on the basis of Request for Information (RFI).
However, no Request for Proposals (RFP) has been issued as yet," Lall said in an interview. The AEW&C system that provides for long distance beyond horizon radar coverage encompasses both the B 737-700 aircraft platform and a variety of aircraft control and advanced radar systems.
Comprising components created by Boeing and Northrop Grumman, the B 737 AEW&C represents the future in this force multiplier system. IAF plans to have at least 10 AEW&C, apart from developing its own system through the DRDO to be fitted on Embraer platform.
"Boeing has received RFP for IAF's requirement of refuellers. We are currently evaluating the RFP to determine whether to bid or not," said Lall, who was appointed Chairman of the Indo-US Strategic Dialogue by the Indo-American Chamber of Commerce earlier this week. Boeing has the KC-767 tanker/transport refueller based on its commercial 767 platform.
Boeing is also contemplating developing a variant of its larger 777 design. European consortium EADS' Airbus A330 Multi Role Tanker Transport(MRTT) is Boeing's competitor for the contract.
India has already bought three Israeli Phalcon early warning system and plans to get two more of it soon. With regard to the IAF's tenders for 22 attack and 15 heavy lift transport helicopters, Lall said Boeing's Apache AH-64D and Chinook had completed the flight and weapon trials in both India and the US.
The IAF is awaiting the arrival of the Russian Mil Mi-28 and the Mi-26 for the trials of the two class of helicopters to strengthen its armed chopper and transport fleet. Lall said the Indo-US negotiations for the 10 C-17 Globemaster III transport aircraft deal worth USD 5.8 billion were progressing well.