Dennis D. Swanson, International Business Development vice president for BDS in India
As India is steadily engaged in modernizing its armed forces, the American company Boeing Defense, Space & Security (BDS) sees India as a $31 billion market over the next decade and finds it advantageous to partner with Indian industry.
Notwithstanding losing the MMRCA deal worth $10.4 billions, the company is hopeful of many more lucrative opportunities in India. Dennis D. Swanson, the International Business Development vice president for BDS in India, in an exclusive interview to Bharat Defence Kavach, unfolds his strategy to engage the Indian Defence Ministry and its branches.
Q. What is your reaction to the MMRCA decision on Rafale?
A. We respect the customer's decision and selection. We are ready to engage if there are any future requirements by the Indian Air Force or the Indian Navy.
Q. From the MMRCA acquisition process, what lessons have the Americans learned?
A. Looking back we did everything we possibly could. We had the right asset. We had a compliant offset proposal that we submitted. The F/A-18 Super Hornet performed exceptionally well in the field trials. F/A-18 is US's cutting edge fighter and it is one of the most combat proven assets that US has. It was the right product but the customer is the ultimate judge and decision maker and they found with those particular technical requirements, it did not meet all of them. We respect the customer's decision.
Q. Any issues with the selection process? Was it transparent?
A. We feel that everything was handled in a very professional manner. We have no objections or any issues whatsoever with the way the selection process went down. We're very fortunate because we have a strong relationship with the Air Force and Navy. We respect their decision all the way.
Q. What are the other products which you'd like to offer to India?
A. Lets start first with the products we have been able to successfully sell. Boeing, the U.S. government and India relationship is strong. It started in January, 2009 when we had the opportunity to sell eight P-8I aircraft to India. We had first flight of that aircraft on September 28, 2011 which was attended by Indian Navy officials. The program is on schedule and we are anticipating first delivery in the 2013 time period. So we're progressing as promised and that is good news.
Q. Has the deal for P-8I options been finalized?
A. The P-8I baseline contract has an opportunity for four follow on options. The customer seems interested in moving forward with those additional aircraft option and we're working with them on timing and other requirements to move forward.
The other program we're proud of is C-17 Globemaster III program. The contract for 10 airlifters was signed in June 2011. There's a sustainment portion as well which goes back to your question about future growth. We see support, training, maximum operational readiness of the products we are selling and into the future. This is a growth opportunity for Boeing Defense, Space & Security (BDS) in India.
We are optimistic about the Apache being selected in the attack helicopter competition. The great part about the Apache program is that if we are selected, India will get the latest Block III technology. The Block III is the same configuration that the U.S. Army is getting and they took delivery of the first Block III aircraft in November 2011. This is going to be a significant opportunity from a technology perspective with 26 technical insertions, including upgrades to cockpit, avionics systems, improvements in propulsion through transmission, composite blades which increase power, thrust, operational readiness, and reduced lifecycle cost. We're optimistic and hopeful that we will move forward with that program in 2012.
We also have the CH-47 Chinook for 15 helicopters that are in competition with MI-26 for heavy lift helicopters and we continue to engage with the customer on that program. We are hopeful that a decision will be made in 2012. We feel that the CH-47 has unique capabilities and can operate at high lift altitudes. We feel it’s going to be very cost competitive especially from a lifecycle perspective.
Q. When will the C-17 be delivered? When will all 10 be delivered?
A. The delivery will be between 2013 and 2014 and within that timeframe all 10 aircraft will be delivered. They are currently manufacturing 10 aircraft per month in our facility in Long Beach.
Q. The Indian Air Force is very happy with the delivery schedule of the C-130J. Do you think the C-17 can also be delivered ahead of schedule?
A. For sure, it will be delivered on time. If the customer requires for it to be delivered in advance of the existing schedule, we will look at working with the customer at that particular point of time. We're having our first Program Management Review (PMR) with the U.S. government, representatives of Indian Air Force and Boeing next week to finalize specifics like infrastructure, schedules etc. But, if the customer has a desire, we can certainly can look at it.
Q. Have you made any briefings to the Indian armed forces on V-22 Osprey tilt rotor aircraft?
A. There has been some initial interest and part of that interest was because V-22 was showcased at Dubai Air Show. The V-22 is an exceptional aircraft and has multiple applications. The U.S. Marine Corps and Special Ops use it. It can be also utilized on an aircraft carrier. There are 160 V-22s in operation today and are being used in Iraq and Afghanistan. From a high temperature, high demand perspe