American aviation giant Boeing on Friday said it plans to assemble either its Chinook heavy-lift helicopters or Apache attack choppers in India even as it gears to offer the possibility of manufacturing a fighter jet aircraft in the country.
“We are much closer to have assembly (of) one of those aeroplanes (choppers) here. That will play out and that’s our strategy. This market is too important, capability is too high and commitment is significant and that kind of commitment is important for us,” Boeing Chairman Jim McNerney McNerney said.
India had last month signed a contract for 15 Chinook and 22 Apache helicopters. “Large sections of the Chinook fuselage are already manufactured in India and discussions are ongoing with our Indian partners to make Apache parts,” Boeing India President Pratyush Kumar had then said.
At a seminar organised here by Boeing, McNerney hoped that India will over the next couple of years call for bids for a fighter aircraft.
“Our approach is going to be to take a current, state-of-the-art fighter and bid. The quantities are uncertain...Our bid will include a proposal to make the plane here,” he said.
“The value to India is a very modern production system integrated to make a very sophisticated machine. That kind of industrial base capability is as important as the fighter itself. These modern manufacturing techniques can go into many different industries,” he said.
Several foreign aircraft manufacturers have offered to build their fighter planes in India after the government scrapped the global tender for 126 medium multi-role combat aircraft (MMRCA).
While India is in talks with France for a formal agreement for off-the-shelf purchase of 36 Rafale jets (two squadrons), Indian Air Force wants at least six more MMRCA-type squadrons.
The Boeing chairman also said that on the defence side, the Indian and US governments have to decide the issue of technology sharing.
“Leaving that aside, and generally speaking, the more cutting edge the technology, then less the sharing will be,” he said even as he voiced support for ‘Make In India’.