Boeing sources wares from Indian firms for maritime aircraft

By Gulshan Luthra, IANS,

New Delhi : Boeing has tied up with four Indian firms to source electronic equipment to meet a part of the offsets obligations as part of its sale of eight P8-I multi-mission maritime aircraft (MMA) to the Indian Navy.

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Boeing is on schedule to meet its deadline for supplying the aircraft to India by 2013, Vivek Lall, vice president and country head for Boeing Integrated Defense Systems (IDS), was quoted as telling India Strategic defence magazine.

The company will meet its commitments in terms of timeline and offsets obligations, he added.

Boeing had recently signed agreements with three Indian public sector companies and one private sector firm to source some avionics and electronic equipment, but Lall gave no specific details.

“Boeing has released purchase contracts to the Electronics Corp of India Ltd (ECIL), HAL Avionics Division, Bharat Electronics Ltd (BEL) and Avantel Softech Ltd,” he said.

Equipment and software from the Indian suppliers will be taken to Seattle, where the world’s largest factory makes Boeing’s commercial airplanes, for integration with the systems supplied by US companies.

The $2.1-billion deal, signed after a global tender, entails a 30-percent offsets commitment for Boeing, envisaging much more worth of investments back into India and some transfer of technology.

Boeing, however, is supplying only aircraft built on a modern Boeing 737-800 platform, and Harpoon Block II anti-ship/submarine missiles. The onboard combat systems supplied by other companies are part of the deal but being acquired through the US government under its foreign military sales programme.

The P8-I deal is a package of the Boeing 737-800 hybrid aircraft, Raytheon’s advanced AN/APY-10 synthetic aperture radar (SAR) for tracking ships, submarines and small coastal vessels even on high speed.

Also included is Northrop Grumman’s electronic warfare self-protection suite, BAE Systems’ countermeasures dispenser system, Smith Aerospace’s flight and stores (or weapons) management system, and GE-SAFRAN’s powerful CFM 56-7 engines.

Besides the crew, the aircraft can have up to seven operator consoles to tackle various threats.

Official sources indicated that the initial payment in accordance with the contract towards its implementation had been made by the Indian defence ministry.

India will be the first country to get this sophisticated technology, and nearly around the same time when the US Navy, which has paid for its development, gets it. The aircraft is under test now.

Though the onboard technologies are the most sophisticated developed so far, there is scope for future technology insertions due to the aircraft’s open architecture, said Lall, a distinguished Indian origin aerospace expert settled in the US.

(Gulshan Luthra can be contacted [email protected])