NEW DELHI, Feb. 3 (UPI) -- Boeing is in talks to manufacture its F/A-18 Super Hornet fighter jet in India as part of the country's Make In India initiative if it agrees to procure the aircraft.
Make In India is a government program launched by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, which aims to encourage multinational and domestic companies to invest in the country by building products there. Boeing CEO Dennis Muilenburg says building the fighter jet used by the U.S. Navy in India will be boon to the program.
"We see Super Hornet as an opportunity to do that to tie directly into the 'Make in India' strategy," Muilenburg told Hindustan Times in an interview.
The Super Hornet was considered as a replacement for the Indian Air Force's aging fleet, but lost to the Dassault Aviation-made Rafale in the procurement process. The $9 billion deal to procure 36 of the planes has been stalled over price negotiations, however, and Indian Defense Minister Manohar Parrikar has stated his government is open to other options.
"We think there is a great opportunity for us to bring Super Hornet to India that will fulfil an operational need, but even more importantly think about it as a capability investment and architect it as a broad industrial investment, build up a supply chain that has industrial capability, not only to design but also to manufacture for the full lifecycle of the products," Muilenburg said, noting the company was planning major investment in the country.
"Ultimately it will be measured in billions of dollars," he said. Boeing has yet to extend an official offer to build the planes in India, however.
"This is a conversation we are having with interested parties right now," Muilenburg said.
"It requires government-to-government agreement. It requires a customer here who makes a decision on projects it wants to pursue. In terms of our ability to execute on the project, to ramp up supply chain and skills base, that is something we can move up on fairly quickly," he said.
The F/A-18 Super Hornet is a twin-engine, multirole attack and fighter aircraft designed to takeoff from an aircraft carrier.