HAL capable of manufacturing our defence systems:Boeing

India has placed an order for 15 CH-47F Chinook heavy-lift helicopters from Boeing.

Boeing, the US-headquartered aerospace multinational corporation, said the company is confident in the capabilities of HAL to produce its all aerospace and defence platforms. 

The comment assumes significance in the backdrop of the recent controversy where the PSU's capability was questioned.

Speaking to DH, Thomas Breckenridge, vice-president of international sales, strike, surveillance and mobility said HAL is the only public sector manufacturing partner for the company in India. 

"HAL has the capability to manufacture all Boeing Defense platforms. We have been associated with HAL for the past few years and it is not a new partnership. It will benefit both India and the US," he said.

The company signed a partnership in April last year with Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL) and Mahindra Defence Systems (MDS) for manufacturing the F/A-18 Super Hornet in India. The partnership envisions to develop an aerospace ecosystem with manufacturing, skill development, innovation, engineering and job creation in the country.

He also said that the company will deliver the first of 22 AH-64E Apache twin-turboshaft attack helicopters to the Indian Air Force (IAF) in July. India has also placed an order for 15 CH-47F Chinook heavy-lift helicopters from Boeing.

When asked about the F-18, he said the company is confident enough to compete in the fighter jet market. "We are ready to compete in this space as India is actively looking to phase out its fighter aircraft fleet in the next decade," he said. 

According to a defence analyst, about a third of India’s 650-strong fleet is more than 40 years old and set to be phased soon. "Indian Airforce requires at least 45 squadrons to repel a joint attack from Pakistan and China. But the country currently has an active strength of about 25 squadrons," said the defence analyst. 

On tech transfer, the Boeing official said the company can't reveal much at this point of time. "Other than HAL we have Mahindra Aerospace as our partner in India. The technology transfer is an issue which is handled by the US government," he said.

He said the company is actively engaged with startups in India and last year the company selected three Indian startups for the Boeing innovation challenge. "We have invested in small enterprise software companies in India. Also, the country is an important innovation centre for the company along with France," he said. 

Specifically, with the F-18, there is an opportunity on open architecture and integration of Indian systems. "Yes, there are approvals required. There are political discussions going on between the two countries and we are looking at what software code can be added to the programme," he said. 

The company also stated that last year it did a business of $1 billion on products and services from India. Of these, two-thirds came from manufacturing and the rest from services. Boeing has over 160 suppliers in India.

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HAL capable of manufacturing our defence systems:Boeing

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