Boeing offers to build full fighters in India

By SP's Special Correspondent

Photo Credit: U.S. Navy

October 19, 2015: Fresh from the twin victories of the Chinook and Apache deals with the Indian Air Force, and brimming with confidence after becoming the single largest supplier company of defence equipment to the Indian military in the last decade, Boeing has revealed its openness to build a full fighter in country. Boeing chairman W. Jim McNerney, who was in India last week for, among other things, a meeting with PM Narendra Modi, made the assertion at India's Time To Fly in the Capital on Friday, an event to celebrate Boeing's 100 years as a corporation and to deliberate on PM Modi's Make In India campaign. The comment has sparked justifiable speculation about precisely what Boeing envisages. The F/A-18IN Super Hornet, as is well known, was a contender in the original M-MRCA competition, eliminated along with the F-16, Gripen, MiG-35 and Typhoon. Boeing's chairman has indicated that an aircraft like the F/A-18 could conceivably be build in India if the Indian Air Force chooses to sign up as a user of the jet. India, which is working to conclude a deal for 36 Rafale fighters — far less than the 126 MMRCAs originally planned — will need more fighters, though it remains almost entirely unclear how it plans to shore up numbers through the competitive procurement route. The Boeing chairman's comment only adds a thread to a jumble of possibilities already in the mix.