Make in India can take aerospace, defence to next level

After bagging a chunk of Indian Air Force (IAF) aircraft deals, Boeing is now laying the foundation of a robust support and services network for the armed forces

11th Feb 2015

Make in India can take aerospace, defence to next level: Dennis Swanson

After bagging a chunk of Indian Air Force (IAF) aircraft deals, Boeing is now laying the foundation of a robust support and services network for the armed forces. So far the defence giant has delivered 10 C-17 Globemaster III airlifters to the IAF, completing the $4.1-billion contract. It also delivered six P-8I maritime surveillance and anti-submarine aircraft to the navy in 2013-14, and two aircraft are scheduled for delivery this year. Dennis Swanson, vice-president of Boeing Defense, Space & Security (BDS) in India, talks to Huma Siddiqui about the company’s plans.

Do you plan to participtate in ‘make in India’?
‘Make in India’ has tremendous potential for India’s aerospace and defence sector as it provides Indian companies an opportunity to become part of the global supply chain. It can prove to be a catalyst for taking the sector to another level. This is definitely an opportunity for Boeing to grow its presence and partnerships in India.

We have been partnering local companies and localising our presence to meet the ‘Make in India’ objectives. We have been working with indian suppliers for over two decades in manufacturing, IT and engineering. Today, there are more than 18 suppliers providing parts and assembly covering commodities such as aerostructures, wire harness, composites, forgings, avionics mission systems and ground support equipment. Since 2008, Boeing’s engagement with suppliers has increased substantially for defence aircraft like the P-8, F/A-18, F-15, and CH-47 Chinook. Some of the work our Indian partners are doing for Boeing indicates their complex manufacturing capabilities.

Could you share details of the work you are doing with the likes of the Tatas?
We are working with multiple companies here to fulfil our commitments. We are working on global sourcing strategies that can make Boeing more competitive around the world, in addition to building India’s aerospace capabilities and meeting our offset commitments. Our Indian partners remain an important part of this strategy.

We are collaborating with companies such as the Tata Group, Hindustan Aeronautics (HAL), Dynamatic Technologies, Bharat Electronics (BEL) and Rossell Techsys. These are already delivering world-class quality as they become an important part of the company’s worldwide supply-chain for some of the most advanced aircraft. For example, Dynamatic Technologies and Tata Advanced Materials (TAML) are delivering power and mission equipment cabinets for the P-8I aircraft, and TAML is also on contract to provide P-8I auxiliary power unit door fairings. Dynamatic Technologies is on contract to manufacture the aft pylon and cargo ramp assemblies for Boeing’s CH-47F Chinook. Maini and TAL Manufacturing Solutions are on contract to provide C-17 ground support equipment.

HAL has manufactured the F/A-18 gun bay doors, F/A-18 wire harnesses, P-8I weapons bay doors, P-8I tailcones and P-8I identification friend-or-foe transponders. Bharat Electronics (BEL) has delivered the Indian-designed Data Link II communications system for the P-8I, the identification friend-or-foe interrogator battle management system and F/A-18 flight deck cockpit panels.

Are you training the Indian armed forces for your equipment?

Growing the services business is a strategy we plan to adopt here to increase and sustain our long-term revenue stream. The IAF crew has received qualification training by the US Air Force at Joint Base Charleston in South Carolina since the C-17 deal was a foreign military sale between the two governments. P-8I training, for Indian Navy pilots, mission system operators and maintenance technicians that will operate and maintain P-8I aircraft, was done in Seattle. So far, Boeing has trained more than 110 Indian Navy professionals, including five pilot crews, five mission crews and a number of flight signalers and observers.

We will continue to have discussions with customers on their requirements and ramp up our support and training capabilities. The IAF’s C-17 fleet has experienced high levels of mission readiness due to a unique and successful performance-based logistics programme called the Globemaster III Integrated Sustainment Program (GISP). The GISP ‘virtual fleet’ arrangement provides all C-17 customers access to a support network of worldwide parts, ensuring mission readiness of the aircraft.

Any new programmes on the radar?

We have received initial interest from the IAF to buy additional C-17 aircraft and I hope we see more C-17s in-country to support the strategic airlift requirements of India. Boeing has delivered 266 C-17s worldwide, including 43 for international customers. The company will continue to support all customers until the last C-17 flies.

Boeing is also in competition for 22 attack and 17 heavy-lift helicopters in India. We are working with the Indian government and hope to sign contracts for both soon. India has been offered the AH-64E, the newest member of the combat-proven Apache family. It will provide the IAF with enhanced dominant force projection capabilities and will address the full spectrum of conflict to peacekeeping and nation building. For the heavy-lift helicopter requirement, the IAF has selected the H-47 Chinook, a tandem rotor platform that is the most capable, advanced heavy lift helicopter in the world, providing maximum value at least risk.


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