By Invitation | Partner in Progress

The Boeing roadmap is to support the modernisation of the Indian armed forces

Alain GarciaAlain Garcia

Boeing has been a trusted partner of India’s aerospace sector for more than 75 years, both as the mainstay of India’s growing commercial aviation sector and, in the modernization and mission readiness of the country’s defence forces. Today, with 11 C-17s, 12 P-8Is, 22 AH-64 Apaches (with six more on order with the Indian Army), 15 CH-47 Chinooks, 3 VVIP aircraft and two Head of State aircraft, India is at the front and centre of Boeing’s business plans. When we talk about Boeing and India, we are talking about several firsts. India was the first international customer of P-8I aircraft. India is the largest international operator of C-17s outside the US. The Harpoon is the first US weapon integrated into an Indian fighter. India’s defence sector is poised for growth, and Boeing is committed to supporting and enabling this progress. The future looks promising, and we continue to see several opportunities in India.


F/A-18 Super Hornet Block III – Transformative, next-generation capabilities for the Indian Navy: The F/A-18 Super Hornet was specifically designed, from its inception, for carrier operations. The US Navy operates more than 800 Super Hornets and EA-18 Growlers, the electronic attack version of the F/A-18 and have logged over 2.5 million flight hours on the fleet. The Block III configuration is suited to protect India’s maritime interests as it’s built to meet the broadest range of missions.

Boeing has invested in the new technologies in the Super Hornet Block III, including increasing the life of airframe to 10,000 hours from 6,000 hours of Block II, radar cross-section improvements and an advanced crew station in the cockpit. With the Super Hornet, the Indian Navy will get transformative capability and also enhance naval aviation cooperation between the two navies. We are also pleased with the performance of our F/A-18 Super Hornets that participated in the Operational Demonstration test flights in May and June in Goa.

Boeing plans to further strengthen its Make in India initiatives, building on a successful track record of contributing to India’s indigenous aerospace and defence ecosystem. As part of this effort, Boeing anticipates USD3.6 billion in economic impact to the Indian aerospace and defence industry over the next 10 years, with the F/A-18 Super Hornet as India’s next carrier-based fighter. The economic impact would be over and above Boeing’s current offset obligations and plans in the country. Boeing plans to build on its existing industrial base and strengthen its commitment to Aatmanirbhar Bharat with continued investments in India across five pillars. These include:

  • Supply chain development and manufacturing
  • Engineering and technology transfer
  • Long-term support and training
  • Infrastructure investments
  • Contributions of the Hornet Industry Team, comprising of General Electric, Northrop Grumman and Raytheon

The diversity and strength of the Hornet Industry Team, comprising of General Electric, Northrop Grumman and Raytheon, has the potential to deliver significant benefits and impact on Indian industry. These industry leaders have proven their commitment to India by collaborating with Indian entities and delivering on Aatmanirbhar Bharat objectives.

The F/A-18 will enhance collaboration with Indian industry by facilitating knowledge transfer and promoting autonomy in operating and maintaining India’s fleet of F/A-18 aircraft. Further, this knowledge transfer may also provide opportunities for India to support F/A-18 fleets around the world through manufacturing and sustainment.


P-8I—Bolstering long range intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance capabilities: A formidable part of the Indian Navy’s fleet, the P-8 is a proven system with more than 140 aircraft in service that have executed more than 400,000 mishap free flight-hours around the globe. Along with the Indian Navy, the P-8 family includes the US Navy, the United Kingdom’s Royal Air Force, Royal Australian Air Force and Royal Norwegian Air Force. Notably, the Indian Navy was the first international customer for the P-8 and today operates the largest non-US fleet.

In addition to unmatched maritime reconnaissance and anti-submarine warfare capabilities, the P-8I has been deployed to assist during disaster relief and humanitarian missions. Since the induction of the P-8I in the Indian Navy, Boeing has been supporting the fleet to ensure high rates of mission readiness. With 12 P-8I’s currently active, the Indian Navy is rapidly increasing its capability to seal and protect its vast coastline—while also playing a greater role in regional maritime security. The patrol aircraft is an integral part of the Indian Navy’s fleet and has surpassed 35,000 flight hours since it was inducted in 2013.


AH-64E ApacheAH-64E Apache—world’s most advanced and proven attack helicopter: With more than 1,260 AH-64 Apaches in operation, and over 665 of those being the most advanced configuration, the Apache has a fully integrated, digital cockpit that enhances the aircraft’s mission performance. It is uniquely suited to meet a commander’s needs, including reconnaissance, security, peacekeeping operations, and lethal attack, across myriad environments—without reconfiguration. Boeing completed the deliveries of all 22 AH-64E Apache helicopters to the Indian Air Force (IAF) in 2020. India has the most advanced variant that is also flown by the US and many other countries. The Indian and the US governments also signed a contract for the acquisition of six Apaches for the Indian Army in 2020 and will be delivered in the coming years.


F-15EX—Always Mission Ready: The F-15EX is the latest and most advanced version of combat-proven, multi-role, all-weather day/night F-15 aircraft family. Given the contemporary sensors and radar, advanced cockpit and range, and speed and payload capacity, the F-15EX brings capabilities that no other fighter aircraft can offer. It offers affordability, speed, range, heavy-weapon payload and the ability to rapidly integrate new technology into a fighter aircraft.

The F-15EX is setting records as the first US Air Force aircraft to be completely tested and fielded through combined Developmental and Operational Test. The first two aircraft were delivered ahead of schedule and participated in advanced exercises weeks later, achieving impressive results against sophisticated threats. Additionally, the US Air Force has contracted Boeing for increasing quantities of aircraft each year and factory production is being increased to domestic and international meet demand. Boeing is committed to increasing rate in the factory to meet the US Air Force requirements for F-15EX and new demands from our international customers.

It will excel as a candidate in India’s Multi Role Fighter Aircraft program. With next-gen technologies that provide improved survivability across a broad spectrum of environments, the complementary capabilities of F-15EX enable a more balanced force structure that will remain ahead of current and emerging threats for decades.


KC-46—World’s Most Advanced Multi-Mission Aerial Tanker: Built to meet the critical needs of the U.S. Air Force and allies to cover the full spectrum of missions, the KC-46 Pegasus delivers proven multi-mission aerial refuelling capabilities today and continues to evolve to meet the needs of tomorrow.

As India expands its Air Force and increases its defensive capabilities, the KC-46 is the perfect choice for a multi-role tanker-transport aircraft. The brand-new KC-46 is purpose-built to be a combat-ready tanker. This means that unlike other tankers, it can operate closer to the fight, covertly and with the ability to protect itself. With the Indian Air Force (IAF) intending to convert itself into an expeditionary force, the air refueler is believed to be a necessity in the coming years.

The IAF has already taken decisions to increase its operational reach by deciding to enable all its aircraft and helicopters for combat and support role for mid-air refuelling. The most reliable and economical tanker to operate, purpose-built KC-46 will provide India with the combat capability it needs for sovereign operations and will also serve as an aircraft to move people and material. Pegasus is the best choice for today and the decades to come.

Boeing has been providing the advanced products and services to help India while also building a strong and resilient aerospace and defence supply chain in the country. Achieving that balance will be critical to readiness and the ability to respond to security challenges.

(The writer is vice president, India Business Development, Boeing Defense, Space & Security and Global Services)



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