Win-Win Strategy

Boeing India wants to promote localisation while focusing on its ultimate goal of modernisation of the Indian armed forces

Palak Gupta

The US aerospace giant Boeing stands out from other global Original Equipment Manufacturers (OEMs) because of its multi-faceted and holistic approach towards India’s push for modernisation of its armed forces. Not only does the company provide modern, advanced warfare capabilities but it also works on developing futuristic technology so as to keep pace with the dynamic and ever-evolving domains of war — land, air, sea, cyber and space.

Vice president, global sales - India, Boeing Defence, Space & Security, Thomas Breckenridge

Boeing has three different units — Boeing commercial aircraft, Boeing Defence, and Boeing Global Services. The latter was established in 2017, with engineering, digital analytics, supply chain and training support spanning across both the government and commercial service offerings. And as its vice president, global sales and marketing, International Government and Defence, Boeing Global Services, Mark Ballew pointed out, the unit endeavours to build “some synergies and capabilities from the best of both of those worlds.”

The company raised International Government and Defence in 2019 for four specific countries — India, Australia, Saudi Arabia and the United Kingdom (UK). Boeing, which has large teams particularly in these four countries, prioritises localisation while keeping at its underlying goal of modernisation.

“We have large teams in India, the UK, Saudi Arabia and Australia, and in those four countries, it is a priority for the Boeing company to be able to work well with the local community and its leadership to provide our products and services here and be able to carry out our missions,” said Ballew. The company also lays emphasis on training (whether it is autonomous, manual or classroom training) and simulation.

“We have a couple of Maintenance, Repair, Overhaul (MRO) locations around the world and one of the things that we are focusing on is what we could do with India. How do we use the local team to be able to set up and make those things happen,” he added. MRO in aviation is the repair, service, or inspection of an aircraft or aircraft component.

Boeing has ceaselessly reiterated its commitment to government programmes such as ‘Make in India’ and ‘Skill India’. Its top objectives include technology evolution, localisation, modernisation, enhancing the company’s global footprints by being mindful and considerate of the country-specific requirements at reduced costs. The company, in particular, wants to make the most use of localisation in services domain by leveraging the country’s engineering and data management talent.

“One thing that’s very important to us is localisation. How do we work with local industry and the countries that are operating our platforms? You know, leveraging the talent that comes from you starting here in India, the talent you have with engineering and data management, and setting up and being able to do that. And it is in the service industry that we’re able to maximise our localisation efforts.

On the sidelines of 11th edition of DefExpo held in Lucknow from February 5- 9, Boeing India’s President Salil Gupte explained that an important part of Boeing’s India strategy is to equip the country’s armed forces with most advanced platforms, ensuring optimum mission readiness and to harness local talent, innovation and engineering.

He said, “An important part of our India strategy is to ensure our defence customers have the most advanced platforms and capabilities, supported by a services model that optimises mission readiness, high performance and safety.” He further added, “Another element of our strategy is to harness talent, innovation, engineering and productivity advantages that India offers to build a globally competitive aerospace and defence ecosystem that creates jobs and industrial capacity with ‘Make in India’.”

Ballew, talking about the importance of technology to real-world war scenario, wondered how Artificial Intelligence (AI) could be used in a scenario where platforms become more technologically sound and advanced.

“How do we have the aircraft tell us about any issues it faces, and say, ‘Hey, I am on this mission. Now, I can sense that there is a problem with this’. The base is going to say, ‘hey, we are going to come in, we are going to need this type of an improvement or this type of part, to be able to repair the aircraft and go forward’. So, you can preposition that part, that component, the workforce and tools to be able to do that work to minimise the amount of downtime that the aircraft is not operating and doing the mission that it needs to go through and perform,” explained Ballew.

“With that, we set up a system within which is like global integration. So, we have a combination of data management and AI, wherein the aircraft is telling us what is going on with it. This helps us to analyse and understand that we are seeing spikes in temperature or pressure, whatever else that could be an indication of a potential failure of an aircraft to be able to support those parts. By doing that with data management, we might be able to extend its life,” added Ballew.

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