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Boeing gets U.S. govt. approval to offer F-15EX fighter to IAF

Company is also working to deliver three P-8I long range maritime patrol aircraft to Navy this year

The U.S. government has given licence to aircraft manufacturer Boeing to market its F-15 EX fighter jet to the IAF’s tender for 114 jets, a senior company official said on Thursday.

The IAF is evaluating proposals from global manufacturers to procure 114 fighters and is expected to go to the Defence Ministry for the Acceptance of Necessity (AoN) to begin the procurement process. Boeing can now offer and discuss the F-15 EX to the IAF. Earlier, the conversation on this was happening between the IAF and the U.S. Air Force, company officials said.

“The six AH-64 Apache attack helicopters for the Army will start manufacturing in India this year,” said Michael Koch, Vice-President, Boeing Defence, Space and Security. The Tata Boeing Aerospace Limited facility has been producing aero-structures for Boeing’s AH-64 Apache helicopter, including fuselages, secondary structures and vertical spar boxes for international customers.

India had initially contracted 22 AH-64 Apaches from Boeing for the IAF and later exercised the optional clause for six more for the Army and the deal was signed early last year. After the initial manufacture in India, the Apaches would be sent to the U.S. for outfitting with electronics and other systems.

Boeing is also working to deliver three P-8I long range maritime patrol aircraft to the Navy this year, said Surendra Ahuja, Managing Director, Boeing Defence India. The Navy is exploiting the P-8Is at a higher rate than the U.S. Navy, he said.

Boeing is also in the process of setting up a 60,000-sq. ft. training support and data handling centre at INS Rajali, Arakkonam, with a secondary centre at the Naval Institute of Aeronautical Technology (NIAT), Kochi.

Stating that the Navy fleet of nine P-8Is have surpassed 29,000 flying hours, Mr. Ahuja said the interim support agreement has significantly increased aircraft availability.

The Navy had initially procured eight P-8Is in a $2.2-billion deal in 2009. The aircraft are part of the 312A Naval Air Squadron based at Arakkonam. In 2016, the Navy exercised the optional clause for four more P-8Is in a deal worth over $1billion. The first of the four aircraft was delivered last October.

The Navy has already received the AoN from the Defence Ministry in November 2019 to procure six more P-8Is and discussions are on with the U.S. government. Mr. Koch said these six P-8Is will come with extensive upgrades. As reported by The Hindu earlier, defence officials had earlier said the six P-8Is will come installed with encrypted communication systems since India has now signed the foundational agreement Communications Compatibility and Security Agreement (COMCASA) with the U.S.

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