Boeing to revive ‘Make in India’ goals

Post-Covid crisis, Boeing to revive ‘Make in India’ goals

The company said it had recently received a licence to market the F-15EX fighter aircraft, the newest variant of the 50-year-old F-15, to India

Representative image/Credit: Reuters Photo

US aerospace firm Boeing said it will use Aero India 2021 as a launchpad to restore its 'Make in India' goals which have been hit by the Covid-19 pandemic. The company will also push several aircraft for possible induction in the Indian military.

Speaking to the media on Thursday, Salil Gupte, president, Boeing India, denied that the company’s conversion of a manufacturing facility in Bengaluru into a research and development centre was a walk-back of the company’s commitments to indigenous manufacturing.

“Boeing has been investing a significant amount in the 43-acre campus in Bengaluru over a long period of time. There were certain elements of manufacturing that were linked to projects that Boeing had in work prior to the pandemic. As the timeline on some of those projects changed, we decided to repurpose one of those buildings for research and development,” Gupte said, adding that the change represented am “extremely small” percentage of Boeing's overall manufacturing in India.

He said Boeing aims to make more in India in 2021, directly and via supply chain partners, than the company did in 2020. Among the units slated for manufacturing are Apache attack helicopter airframes at the Tata Boeing Aerospace Ltd (TBAL) plant in Hyderabad, said Michael Koch, VP, India, Boeing Defence, Space and Security.

“Most of the fuselage and structure is manufactured in India, not just for India but also for the US Army and worldwide supply to our customers rather. The whole structure of the Apache is then sent to Mesa, Arizona, where the electronic systems are installed and completion is performed there,” he said, adding that six airframes for the Indian army will start rolling down the production line soon. 

We have been trying to accelerate that timeline but Covid-19 has imposed delays, he added. 

The company said it had recently received a licence to market the F-15EX fighter aircraft, the newest variant of the 50-year-old F-15, to India. This means the company can market the aircraft for the Indian Air Force’s 114-aircraft Multi-role Fighter Aircraft (MFC) programme, said Ankur Kanaglekar, head of India Fighter sales, Boeing Defence, Space and Security.

“It allows us to talk with Indian Air Force directly on the capabilities of the fighter and obviously, Aero India is a big event where the initiation of this activity will begin in a big way,” added Surendra Ahuja, managing director, Boeing Defence India.

Despite the company's high expectations from Aero India, its line-up of physical aircraft will be limited, Koch suggested. 

Boeing also announced the Boeing India Repair Development and Sustainment (BIRDS) hub initiative that envisions a competitive Maintenance, Repair and Overhaul ecosystem for engineering, maintenance, skilling, repair and sustainment services of defence and commercial aircraft in India.