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Boeing sees opportunities for making F/A-18 Super Hornets in India: Michael Koch
By Sushil Sharma | Bharat Defence Kavach | Publish Date: 11/14/2016 1:21:58 PM
Boeing sees opportunities for making F/A-18 Super Hornets in India: Michael Koch

 India is spending huge amount of money for the modernization of its armed forces. Top defence companies are vying for a share of profit from the military purchases by India. The American Boeing company which has a long presence in India in civil aviation sector has also now become a major supplier of aerial platforms for the Indian Air Force and the Indian Navy. The company is providing various solutions to the Indian armed forces and has some important future plans. Michael Koch, Vice-President, Boeing Defence, Space & Security India, shares his thoughts with Sushil Sharma of Bharat Defence Kavach on some present and future plans of the company. 

Michael Koch, Vice President, Boeing Defense, Space & Security India

Boeing has sold a lot of defense platforms to India. What is your strategy for the country on the defense side?

Boeing’s strategy in India has a dual focus – firstly, to deliver state-of-the-art and reliable products backed up by outstanding support services; and secondly, to create an aerospace eco-system in India, through developing enduring partnerships with local companies. Going forward, you will see Boeing deepening its presence in India and continue to strengthen its partnerships with Indian companies to help make the  government’s Make in India vision for aerospace a reality.

The Indian Air Force and Indian Navy have been using their C-17 and P-8I fleet extensively. What do you attribute the high availability and readiness rates to?

With 10 C-17 Globemaster strategic airlifters and eight P-8I maritime surveillance and anti-submarime warfare aircraft delivered, Boeing is committed to ensuring that the Indian Air Force and Indian Navy are able to use their fleets whenever they require them. The high mission readiness rates have been possible because Boeing focuses on product quality and we bundle a reliable product with support, services and training programs for our customers. Boeing’s extensive experience in commercial airplanes benefits our understanding of how to not only deliver technology and capability, but making sure it is ready to perform. When a fleet is 80-90% available vs 40-50%it is a powerful effect for a military.  It’s like owning more aircraft.  Boeing has a history of delivering quality. For example, the F-18 is the most affordable fighter – as measured by cost per flight hour – operated by the US military today.

An example of how you do this is the C-17 Globemaster III Integrated Sustainment Program (GISP). A “virtual fleet” arrangement ensures mission readiness by providing all C-17 customers worldwide access to an extensive network for parts and services , making the C-17 more affordable to own and operate. This program has become a model for the future of sustainment where Boeing is held accountable to achieve sustainment performance metrics.

What are the future opportunities you are looking at for India?

The past year has been a successful year for Boeing Defense, Space & Security (BDS) in India. Boeing had been establishing the building blocks for a long term defense presence in India for the last seven years and we are beginning to see those early investments bear results. Delivering on our commitments to our Indian customers is of paramount importance to us and we will continue to do that.The recent contracts of 22 AH-64E Apache attack helicopters and 15 CH-47F Chinook heavy-lift helicopters further strengthens our position as a long-term strategic partner for India’s defense modernization. Boeing will also continue to work closely with our customers to ensure they receive the helicopters on time and have the required support and training to operate them across a diverse range of missions.

In the future, Boeing sees opportunities for making F/A-18 Super Hornets in India, providing additional P-8I long range maritime reconnaissance and anti-submarine warfare aircraft, AH-64 Apache attack helicopters, CH-47F Chinook heavy-lift helicopters, aircraft refueling tankers and weapons such as Harpoon missiles, unmanned systems and services and support. I envision extensive collaboration withIndian industry. We aren’t in India to sell aircraft and go home. We are fully committed to our customers and the objectives of Make in India. We’ve been in India for 75 years and are continuing to invest.

How the Indian Air Force benefit by acquiring Chinook and Apache helicopters in its fleet?

The AH-64E Apache and CH-47F Chinook represent the best of high-performing technologies that will modernize India’s defense capabilities and will greatly enhance the country’s capabilities across a range of military and humanitarian missions. In September last year, India’s Ministry of Defence finalized its order with Boeing for production, training and support of 22 AH-64E Apache attack helicopters and 15 CH-47F Chinook heavy-lift helicopters. The Apache has been flown or selected for acquisition by the United States and 15 other nations, including India. Both are the newest models of these aircraft.

The Apache is the most capable multi-role combat helicopter in the world, combining performance and lethality with more affordable and efficient maintenance. It will provide the Indian Air Force with enhanced dominant force projection capabilities and will address the full spectrum of conflict to peacekeeping and nation building.

The tandem rotor CH-47 Chinook is the most capable, advanced heavy lift helicopter in the world, providing maximum value at the lowest risk. The CH-47Chinook offers India heavy-lift and high-altitude transportation for a multitude of military, humanitarian, rescue, disaster relief, fire-fighting and nation-building missions in all climates and conditions and altitudes. The aircraft is ideally suited for India’s vast distances, austere environments and high altitudes.

How can Boeing help India in its ‘Make in India’ mission? Give some details about outsourcing to Indian defence industry.

Boeing is accelerating its manufacturing, skill development and engineering footprint in India forging the way towards building a strong and indigenous ecosystem, in support of the ‘Make in India’.  Some of our competitors like to talk about making in India, but we are actually doing it. As Boeing continues to strategically invest to add value to its global scale and depth, the company looks primarily at quality, capability, productivity, and market growth. India offers tremendous advantages in all these areas, which makes it a natural and strategic partner to Boeing for the long term. Boeing has been working with suppliers in India for over two decades in manufacturing, IT and engineering services. Today, there are more than 30 suppliers providing parts such as aerostructures, advanced composites, forgings, avionics mission systems, wire harnesses and ground support equipment. Since 2008, 

Boeing’s engagement with suppliers has increased substantially for commercial and defense aircraft such as the 777, 787, P-8, F/A-18, F-15, and CH-47 Chinook.Some of the work our Indian partners are delivering for Boeing is indicative of the complex manufacturing capabilities that Indian companies are capable of developing for the global market.Significant portions of the Apache and Chinook helicopters will be made in India. Dynamatic Technologies manufactures the ramp and pylon for the CH-47 Chinook helicopter in India.

Boeing also announced a joint venture with Tata Advanced Systems Limited (TASL) in November last year to manufacture aerostructures for aircraft. A foundation laying ceremony ceremony of the joint venture facility was conducted in June this year in Hyderabad which will be the sole producer of the AH-64 fuselage globally.

Any proposal for making Super Hornet fighters in India under Make in India? Any progress in this respect?

Super Hornet fighter aircraft 

Boeing has had a presence in India for more than seven decades and is committed to expanding that partnership by producing Super Hornets in India, further developing India’s aerospace ecosystem. The Super Hornets will be built in India in a world class advanced manufacturing facility with the very latest technologies in place, perfectly positioning India to build its Advanced Medium Combat Aircraft (AMCA).  With advanced technologies, designed-in stealth and a robust capability growth plan, the Super Hornet offers advanced multirole attack fighter capability and is perfectly suited to meet the needs of the IAF now and for many decades to come.  The Super Hornet does not only have a low acquisition cost, but it costs less per flight hour to operate than any other tactical aircraft in U.S. forces inventory. We have been very methodical to prepare an outstanding offering in terms of capability, affordability and enduring community of Indian aerospace design and manufacturing. The Super Hornet is a more advanced aircraft, so putting this in place takes more preparationthan it does for less advanced fighters.

After the initial acquisition of 8 P-8I aircraft by the Indian Navy, there is need for additional P-8I aircraft. Can you please give details on the progress on additional order for P-8I?

Boeing has delivered eight P-8Is – all on schedule – to India under a contract awarded in 2009. The 2009 contract for eight aircraft included options for an additional four, exercised in full with a contact by India recently. With this latest contract award, Boeing will build four additional P-8I long-range maritime reconnaissance and anti-submarine warfare aircraft for the Indian Navy, increasing India’s maritime patrol and anti-submarine capabilities. As a key power in the region with a vast coastline and many commercial maritime interests, we believe India has the requirement for additional P-8I’s.

Boeing has been providing services and support solutions to the Indian Armed Forces. Can you please give details of some recent activities of Boeing in India?

The inside of the full motion simulator in the C-17 training facility located at the Flight Simulation Technique Centre in Gurgaon Boeing photo

Boeing is working with the Indian Air Force and Indian Navy to provide training and support of Boeing aircraft such as the P-8I, C-17 and the Head of State aircraft. It is this focus that has enabled Boeing to ensure that our customers’ fleets achieve the highest levels of mission readiness for the aircraft to be available for military, surveillance and humanitarian relief missions with the best trained crews. In addition, in July this year, Boeing and Mahindra Defence Systems formally opened a center in Gurgaon to provide C-17 training services to the Indian Air Force.

With the establishment of a training facility, Indian Air Force air crews can now receive training on the full motion simulator with advanced simulation, courseware and computer-based training to practice the complete range of tasks required for military airlift operations and humanitarian missions, along with other scenarios such as aerial refueling and emergency procedures. The facility includes weapons systems and loadmaster station trainers that can be employed individually or networked together to rehearse complete missions. 

The C-17 training facility houses a full motion simulator, which is located at the Flight Simulation Technique Centre in Gurgaon, is a full-service location offering instruction to aircrews that operate the 10 C-17 airlifters that Boeing delivered to India in 2014. Boeing photo

In addition, Boeing will work closely with the Indian Air Force as it prepares to welcome its fleet of Apache and Chinook helicopters starting in 2019. Boeing will be in discussions with the Air Force on total training solutions for air crews as well as provide the best capabilities for rotorcraft support. 



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