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Boeing F/A-18 Super Hornet fighter planes to be made in India

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CHENNAI: Boeing, Hindustan Aeronautics Ltd (HAL) and Mahindra Defence Systems have come together to manufacture Boeing’s F/A-18 Super Hornet fighter planes in India. An agreement for the project was signed at the defence expo — DefExpo 2018 — here on Thursday.

Pratyush Kumar, president of Boeing India said, “A new state-of-the-art facility will be set up at HAL in Bengaluru to manufacture the planes and also the next generation Hornet’s as per the agreement.” The production facility can also be used for other programmes like India’s Advanced Medium Combat Aircraft programme.

He said, “The partnership with HAL and Mahindra will enable us to optimise the full potential of public and private sector to deliver next generation fighter planes. Together we can deliver an affordable, combat proven fighter platform for India, while adding growth to the Indian aerospace ecosystem.”

Through the agreement, Boeing has teamed up with HAL which is the only company in India that makes fighter planes and Mahindra is the country’s only company that makes commercial planes.

Detailing about the partnership, he said, “We talked to more than 400 suppliers and realised that it has to have the best offering from India. Suggestions were taken from the ministry of defence and think tanks. So public private partnership was considered a reliable avenue ….”

S P Shukla, group president, Aerospace and Defence, Mahindra Group and chairman of Mahindra Defence Systems, said: “As one of the largest private sector defence companies, we look forward to support the modernisation of our armed forces and achieving economics of scale in the aerospace and defence sector. The relationship with HAL goes back several years and we have tested our first seven-seater plane at the facility.” Small passenger planes made by Mahindra is being used in 31 countries.

T Suvarna Raju, chairman and managing director, HAL, said the partnership with Boeing and Mahindra Defence Systems would create an opportunity to develop capabilities of the aerospace industry and strengthen indigenous platforms in India and contribute to the ‘Make in India’ initiative. The future production would also involve indigenisation content and producing the fighter plane for India.

Raju said the agreement for making F/A18 planes would not infringe into the availability of space for HAL in Bengaluru which was planning to step up its Light Combat Aircraft project.

As the most advanced and least expensive aircraft per flight hour, the F/A-18 Super Hornet will deliver on India’s need for a carrier and land based multi-role fighter. The Super Hornet not only have a low acquisition cost, but it also costs less per flight hour to operate than any other tactical aircraft in US forces inventory. And with a plan for constant innovation, the F/A-18 Super Hornet will outpace threats and bolster defence capabilities of India.

The Super Hornet has a long life ahead, with the US Navy making significant investments in the latest evolution, the Block III. Key features of the US Navy Block III.

Super Hornet include enhanced network capability, longer range and low-drag with additional fuel tanks, long-range detection with infrared search and track and enhanced situational awareness with a new advanced cockpit system.

Updated: April 12, 2018 — 2:41 pm

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