Boeing offers radar technology with F-18 combat jet


New Delhi : Signaling a paradigm shift, US aerospace major Boeing Sunday said it would transfer technology for a cutting edge technology radar of its F-18 Super Hornet fighter, which is vying for an Indian Air Force (IAF) order for 126 multi-role combat aircraft.

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A year ago, the Boeing had flatly ruled out transferring technology for the active electronically scanned array (AESA) radar that enables the F-18 seamlessly shift into an AWACS (airborne warning and control system) mode while flying on a combat mission.

“I can confirm that we will be complying with all the requirements of the request for proposal (RFP) we have received from the Indian Air Force and that includes technology transfer for the AESA radar,” Chris Chadwick, president of Precision Engagement and Mobility Systems of Boeing Integrated Defence Systems, said here.

Speaking at the Bangalore international air show a year ago, he had said technology for the radar would “under no circumstances” be transferred.

Transfer of technology and licensed manufacture in the country is mandated under India’s Defence Procurement Procedure enunciated in 2006. This procedure is now being fine-tuned in relation to the offsets clause under which 30 percent of all defence deals worth over Rs.3 billion have to be re-invested in India.

In the case of the IAF order, however, the offsets obligation has been raised to 50 percent.

“We have readied a fully compliant proposal (on the IAF tender) and will submit this three days early (against the March 3 deadline),” Chadwick told reporters on the sidelines of the ongoing DEFEXPO-2008 international defence exposition here.

“We are very well positioned to establish a long-term relationship with the Indian Air Force and the ministry of defence,” he added.

Should Boeing win the IAF order, the aircraft would be supplied in four phases.

“In phase 0, we will supply 18 aircraft in fully assembled condition. In Phase 1, we will supply the aircraft in semi-knocked down condition with 1,800 parts and 300 tools,” said Mike Rietz, F-18 programme manager for India.

“In phase 2, the aircraft will come in completely knocked down condition with 17,000 parts and 1,000-plus tools. In phase 3, the aircraft and its entire range of 30,000 parts will be indigenously manufactured in India,” he added.

“In this way, we will gradually raise the level of technology that HAL (Hindustan Aircraft Ltd that will build the aircraft in India) will have to absorb,” Rietz explained.

The delivery schedule means that 108 of the 126 aircraft will be assembled in India, roughly half of them with Boeing-supplied parts while the balance would be totally built in this country.

“The RFP lays down that the first aircraft is supplied within 36 months of the contract being signed and the 18th within 48 months. The 19th aircraft, the first to be assembled in India, will come within 54 months.

“Thereafter, there will be an incremental increase with the last aircraft to be delivered by 2020,” Rietz said.