Boeing Eyes Sales to Indian Air Force
By RAJESH MAHAPATRA, Associated Press Writer
Fri Jul 22, 6:53 PM ET
NEW DELHI - U.S. aircraft maker Boeing has joined the race to supply fighter jets to the Indian Air Force, a senior company official said Friday, weeks after the United States and India signed a strategic defense pact.
Responding to a request from the Indian government, Boeing Co. presented its latest multipurpose jet — the F/A-18 Super Hornet — to defense officials in India this week.
"We are pleased to have the opportunity to provide India with a premier aircraft that will help guarantee the security of India and its people," said Chris Chadwick, Boeing vice president for F/A-18 programs.
The Indian Air Force has said it will buy 126 new jet fighters to modernize its fleet. U.S.-based Lockheed Martin Corp. and French aircraft maker Dassault Aviation are also in the race.
The Super Hornet is the U.S. Navy's newest strike fighter, a multi-role combat plane that is capable of both dogfights and carrying out bombing missions. Air forces of seven countries, including Australia and Canada, are using the Super Hornet.
Chadwick said this week's visit by Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh to Washington had made the environment more favorable for U.S.-based defense contractors wanting to do business with India.
Price and other details have yet to be worked out, and an order could take up to a year to finalize. Boeing sold the planes to the U.S. Navy for $54 million each, but Chadwick said the price for India would depend on its requirements.
Boeing was also willing to transfer technology and co-produce the planes in India, Chadwick said, and in partnering defense production and space research.
"We have a lot of flexibility in terms of what we can offer to the Indian Air Force, subject to approval by the U.S. government," he said.
Shares of Chicago-based Boeing rose 49 cents to close at $66.20 Friday on the New York Stock Exchange