Global aircraft maker Boeing and Tata Advanced Systems Ltd (TASL) have agreed to collaborate in aerospace and defence manufacturing, a move that could lead to increased domestic manufacturing for the sectors and tap the growing specialised talent pool, a theme that coincides with Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s signature Make in India programme.
The agreement, which was signed on Thursday, will include manufacturing of potential integrated systems development opportunities such as in making unmanned aerial vehicles or drones, which have been highly effective in counter-terrorism operations and in mapping weather patterns for an agriculturally-sensitive economy like India.
TASL already makes aero-structures for Boeing’s CH-47 Chinook and AH-6i helicopters.
“This framework agreement is the result of the world-class competencies of TASL as well as the vendor ecosystem it has establish in India,” TASL chairman S Ramadorai said.
The Tata group company will also benefit as the deal opens up Boeing’s existing global markets for products that would be developed jointly under the agreement.
The Centre has listed defence manufacturing as one of the key areas for increasing India’s presence, and permits 49% FDI.
The government is expected to pitch the deal as another way to utilise India’s defence engineering talent with its thrust on developing local skills.
“The deal is significant because it demonstrates Boeing’s commitment to expand its aerospace manufacturing footprint in India,” said Shelley Lavender, president, Boeing Military Aircraft.
Apart from TASL, other Tata group firms, including Tata Advanced Materials and TAL Manufacturing Solutions, are also supplying components to Boeing.
“The agreements with the US on defence would definitely benefit India, but there is still a grey area on how the collaboration can be done,” said C Uday Bhaskar, director with the Society for Policy Studies.