Global defence equipment major Boeing on Monday said that its F/A-18 Super Hornet fighter aircraft is compatible with India’s current naval carrier platforms and that they can be produced in the country under the government’s “Make in India” initiative.
“Analytical and (computer) simulations have shown that the F/A-18 is compatible with the current carrier fleet of the Indian Navy. The results of the test have been submitted in response to a global RFI issued by the Navy,” said Pratyush Kumar, President, Boeing India.
Presently, the Indian Navy’s aircraft carriers’ utilise “ski-jump ramps” for fighter aircraft to take-off.
Kumar spoke to IANS on the sidelines of a briefing over F/A-18 Super Hornet fighter aircraft which was held here. Boeing has filed its response to a global RFI (request for information) floated by the Indian Navy earlier this year.
Boeing is considered to be one of the major contenders for the supply of 57 carrier-borne fighter aircraft required by the Indian Navy. Company executives told IANS that the F/A-18 Super Hornet was designed for carrier operations and is “the world’s pre-eminent carrier capable aircraft” with a defined US Navy flight plan to outpace threats into the 2040s.
The Indian Navy initiated the bid and issued a “RFI for Procurement of Multi-Role Carrier Borne Fighter for The Indian Navy” on January 31, 2017.
According to Kumar, apart from the advanced technologies, the aircraft comes with an overall life cycle cost which is more reasonable than other contenders in the bid.
“The overall life cycle cost is far lower than others,” Kumar said. “The Super Hornet has the lowest cost per flight hour which is even lower than Lockheed Martin’s F-16.”
Dan Gillian, Vice President of F/A-18 and EA Programmes, Boeing, observed that a platform like the “Super Hornet” under the “Make in India” programme will help the Indian industry to position itself for the manufacture of “Advanced Medium Combat Aircraft” (AMCA).
“Boeing can provide the capability needed for the Indian Navy to build its next generation carrier air wing. It can also provide the industrial base right here behind that capability,” Gillian said.
“When we look across the globe at quality, capability and cost – India is an obvious partner. We have been building F/A-18 aerostructures and assemblies in India because it makes good business sense to do so.”
“The Super Hornet represents 21st century capability for the Indian defence forces, and industrial capability where we have evaluated 400 suppliers for the fighter campaign and have done a deep assessment on the capability of over 160 Indian suppliers,” Kumar said. “We have quadrupled our sourcing from India and currently source $1 billion from India.”
Gillian mentioned that the Super Hornet is ahead of its competitors because of its affordability, survivability, built-in stealth, smarter weapons and being combat proven.
Currently, the Indian Navy has two aircraft carriers — INS Vikramaditya and INS Viraat — which are based in the Indian Ocean Region. It operates the Russian built MIG 29-K fighter aircraft from these platforms.