Boeing has expressed interest in supplying the F/A-18 Block III Super Hornet fighter jet to the Indian Navy.
Responding to queries from BusinessLine, the company said, “We have responded to the Indian Navy’s Request for Information (RFI) for the Multi-role Carrier Borne Fighters programme. The F/A-18 Block III Super Hornet, the frontline fighter of the US Navy, is on offer to the Indian Navy. It will offer the most contemporary war-fighting capabilities to the Indian Navy while enhancing cooperation between the Indian Navy and US Navy.”
Today, India has 11 C-17 Globemaster IIIs, eight P-8Is (with four more on order), 22 AH-64E Apaches (with six more on order) and 15 CH-47F(I) Chinooks, all Boeing platforms. In 2020, Boeing also signed an agreement with the Centre for the acquisition of six AH-64E Apache helicopters for the Indian Army,” the company added.
The pitch to the Indian Navy has been made by Boeing Defense India (BDI), established in 2017. The current product range extends to intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance (ISR) capabilities, tankers, unmanned systems, security solutions and services and support.
The Block III version of the F/A-18 E/F Super Hornet is currently being manufactured for the US Navy. “It can perform virtually every mission in the tactical spectrum including air superiority, day/night strike with precision guided weapons, fighter escort, close air support, suppression of enemy air defence, maritime strike, reconnaissance, forward air control and buddy refuelling,” the company said.
“More than 700 F/A-18 Hornets and Super Hornets are in operation today. F/A-18 Block III Super Hornet will offer superior economics in the form of low acquisition cost, operations and high mission readiness. The Super Hornets will be sustained in India, in partnership with the Indian armed forces as well as India and US-based partners throughout the lifecycle of the aircraft,” the company added.
Boeing has also launched a promotional campaign to drum up support for its fighter jet; this also includes marketing on social media. Some industry observers are looking at this in the light of the Rafale deal controversy.
In 2017, the Defence Ministry had said that it intends to procure approximately 57 Multi-Role Carrier Borne Fighters (MRCBF) for aircraft carriers of the Navy. The deliveries of the aircraft would need to commence within three years post conclusion of the contract.
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