Boeing says IAF inquiry for twin-engine fighter coming soon, hopes to build 200 in India - Broadsword by Ajai Shukla - Strategy. Economics. Defence.

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Thursday 3 November 2016

Boeing says IAF inquiry for twin-engine fighter coming soon, hopes to build 200 in India

By Ajai Shukla
Business Standard, 4th Nov 16

The Indian Air Force (IAF) has already approached major global fighter vendors, inviting them to build single-engine, medium fighters in India.

Now the spotlight is expanding to encompass heavier, twin-engine fighters as well.

On Thursday, Pratyush Kumar, President of Boeing India revealed that he expected a second inquiry from the IAF, asking international manufactures for interest in building twin-engine fighters in the country.

Along with other vendors, Boeing had received the earlier inquiry for single-engine fighters. With nothing to offer in that category, Boeing wants to sell and build the twin-engine F/A-18E/F Super Hornet --- the US Navy’s frontline fighter.

Boeing had offered the Super Hornet in response to India’s 2007 tender for 126 medium multi-role combat aircraft (MMRCA), but lost out to the twin-engine Rafale fighter, fielded by French aerospace vendor, Dassault.

Even so, with New Delhi having procured just 36 Rafale fighters, Boeing assesses that, even after buying single-engine fighters, the IAF will face a major shortfall of twin-engine fighters.

Said Kumar to journalists in New Delhi today: “There is a gap of about 200 fighter aircraft that the Super Hornet can fill, including the naval requirement. This is the assessment of Boeing.”

Like the Rafale, the Super Hornet can operate from land-based airfields, and also aircraft carriers. The US military only uses it off aircraft carriers, but other air forces, such as the Royal Australian Air Force, operate the Super Hornet off land bases.

Boeing has already submitted a plan through the US-India Defence Technology and Trade Initiative (DTTI), a government-industry coordinating body, to build the Super Hornet in India.

Unlike “other companies” that are offering to shift existing lines, says a politely dismissive Kumar, in a thinly disguised swipe at Lockheed Martin, Boeing would establish “A brand new, state-of-the-art factory of the future.”

Boeing’s global arch-rival, Lockheed Martin, the world’s largest defence corporation (Boeing is the second-largest), has offered to shift its older F-16 line from Fort Worth, Texas to build the single-engine fighter in India.

The F-16 faces competition in the single-engine category from the Gripen E, which Swedish company Saab has offered to build in India. Saab has sweetened its proposal with an offer to assist the Defence R&D Organisation (DRDO) with completing an improved version of the indigenous Tejas light fighter, called the Tejas 1A.

Boeing’s competition in the twin-engine fighter segment comes from Dassault and Eurofighter. Usually well-informed sources say Dassault, buoyed by its sale of 36 ready-built Rafale fighters to the IAF, is readying a proposal to build a significantly larger number in India.

Boeing, unlike other fighter manufacturers, leverages its military business in India with a major non-military presence in the world’s fastest-growing market for airliners.

Kumar argues that Boeing’s dual presence --- in civilian and defence aerospace --- creates a compelling business case for establishing manufacturing facilities in India. “Manufacturing volumes are needed to create a business case for manufacturing in another country. In defence, volumes are initially limited. So it is a great advantage when commercially viable volumes come from defence and civilian business combined”, he explains.

Boeing is readying to generate those volumes. In June, Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar inaugurated a new manufacturing facility in Hyderabad, where 300 employees will build fuselages for Boeing’s Apache AH-64E attack helicopter, which India has contracted to buy.

The facility, which will become the world’s sole source for Apache fuselages, is owned by a joint venture between Boeing and Tata Advanced Systems Ltd, called Tata Boeing Aerospace Ltd (TBAL). Kumar says the facility will commence production in mid-2017 and the first fuselages will roll out in 2018.


  1. Till we got SU-30, we never had any heavy fighters. Su-30 was bought though IAF had no requirement specified.
    Now we have 272 Sukhois, 36 contracted Rafales.
    Jaguar has tiny engines , no one can call it twin engined in real sense. A MiG-27 or F-16 can do the same job.

    Why are we building a heavy force ? Do we have any clue what it takes to keep these flying ?
    We are also buying force multipliers like AWAAC , aerial refuelers , cruise missiles , Brahmos, drones & of course s-400 SAMs.
    I am not saying we do not need 40+ squadron air craft, but in the light of technological advances, we need to revisit the rationale.
    All developed countries are cutting down their numbers.

  2. I don't think we have enough money to buy any more.

  3. When is India going to be realistic and work on its people program. There are so many dissatisfaction at ground level and the present regime only desire is to be militarily superior to her smaller neighbors. she will in effect starts an arm race there.
    First of all, there will be NO tarnsfer of technology and a change of President will reverse all the previous administration foreign policy leaving India in a lurch.
    However if that is the chosen path by the leadership and since mainstream folks have no says in the world largest democracy, good luck.

  4. The problem with Russian planes is their maintanability and poor unreliable engine technology which can stop working anytime. I now in retrospect feel buying thirty six Rafale was a good decision as that group can be specifically put aside for strategic nuclear command. Buying more is out of question as they are pretty expensive.rafale can be used without any sanctions for delivery of nuclear weapons. If India gets shornet with new EPE engines then it is worth it as few can be manufactured for navy carriers. The American planes have a robust reliable engine and thus do not have the maintanability and reliability issues like Russian planes. People talk of Chinese J twenty and J thirty one but inspite of good shape and stealth they are powered by an very unreliable engine with poor performance. Whole Chinese Air Force has the same problem which they have sorted by manufacturing few of the spares but still has not devloped the engine technology. I strongly feel massive numbers of tejas be built as they would be cheap to built , maintain and fly and can have a high sortie rate and thus would be great force multiplier. The distinct advantage is small size , composite frame and extremely small radar signature. Built inherit stealth with nano particles films in the composite skin with stealth shape improvement , radar absorbing materials in paints and active jammers can function better than the Chinese big stealth planes. The problem is to have so many things in a small plane of the size of tejas but a serious determined effort can succeed and every effort be done to achieve that. I strongly believe till the rearrangement is being planned it is better modify the plane and fit more powerful and fuel efficient GE four one four engine and preferably get EPE engine so that six thousand liters of fuel be carried and the range , operating radius and flying time can be increased further without loosing thrust to weight ratio and plane can strike deep with its unique size and stealth and after dropping its bomb load can super cruise and speed back home safely with the advantage of small radar signature cannot be locked at long ranges and tejas can lock any plane at considerable ranges with its AESA radar and try to have multipoint pyelons so that it should carry atleast six missiles to defend and attack. Try to get sensors from F35 and if possible to do full sensor fusion to increase its lethality. I strogly believe 400 to 500 tejas mk2 with two hundred F18 next generation with new engines and in 2022 add another 100 F 35 and with components manufactured for SU 30 in India and take consultancy to improve the engine life of SU 30 with upgraded mirages , jaguars and MIG 29 would make a very lethal Air Force. Then try to devlop your own AMCA or jointly devlop faith generation fighter with Japan. Russia is good in some other technologies like the frigates and submarines but has lagged behind technologically in stealth , avionics and engine technology. It is not worth considering PAKFA which has obsolete unreliable engine when US has already started developing sixth generation fuel efficient high performance engines.


  5. IAF top generals and MoD bureaucrats need to be reined and told that there will be no further foreign purchases of different types. I would rather buy more Rafales than engage in this pointless competition. IAF has way too many types of fighters. IAF need to streamlined into 3 different fighters:

    Heavy: MKIs and to be replaced by FGFA
    Medium: Rafales as the long term future and replaces Jaguars, Migs, Mirages, etc.
    Light: LCAs no gripen or f-16s. We need to support our local defense aviation industry and the light fighter program is the place to do it.

  6. Welcome to logistics hell....Mig-29 upg is already there. How about going in for more Su-30/35 or Mig-35 which is basically a Mig-29++?

    "All developed countries are cutting down their numbers."
    - their neighbourhood does not include Pakistan and China.

  7. We don't have the money, no one has the money to keep these aircraft, even the US cancelled majority of their orders of F22 from the initial 600 to approx 8-10 squadrons(16-18 AC each)

    We need to develop and invest only in the LCA and go all to get the MCA. Only feasible solution now.

  8. Not related to this thread, but Bandalbazz pls comment.....,,,,,,,,,,,,,,
    One Rank One Pension (OROP).....
    Just two years after the Indian forces had won India one of the most spectacular victories in its history –the 1971 Indo-Pak war –and right after the star Field Marshal Sam Maneckshaw retired, Indira Gandhi’s government reduced armed forces pensions by 20-40 percent, while increasing civilian pension by 20 percent, without any consultation with armed forces headquarters. That, ladies and gentlemen, is how OROP issue was started! So, when Rahul Gandhi, Sonia Gandhi or other Congress leaders argue about how Modi government hasn’t done enough on OROP, it is important to lay out the genesis of the whole issue in front of them point blank. The discrimination of the Armed Forces versus the rest of the government servants is the brain-child of the Congress itself!!
    On March 14, 2016, that decision –where Indira Gandhi stabbed the Armed Forces in their back after the great 1971 war –imposed by Congress in 1973 was finally corrected and the pensioners received revised pension. Over Rs 1465 crores were paid to the Armed Services personnel!
    The government on Monday released revised pensionary benefits under One Rank One Pension (OROP) to over two lakh beneficiaries drawing service or disability pension. The amount along with first instalment of arrears had been released and credited by the Defence Ministry to the accounts of pensioners on March 1, 2016.
    Could this have not done earlier? Of course it could have been done. But how do you expect the fox to raise the hens it is placed to look after while it feeds on them?!

  9. Dear Sir

    Please write an Article about the LOC Battles

    It appears that Pakistan is getting really Thrashed by the Indian Army

  10. Well BJP had to get money from somewhere for 2019 election.

  11. India has already signed a deal for FGFA with Russia , manufacturing SU-30 MKI in India , purchased RAfale, then why another twin engine fighter and if this will be Boeing , why a 30 year old airframe .

    Does the govt of the day with an Engineer from IIT as defense minister, wants to do away with the principle of standardization, simplification and specialization ? Do they want the Indian Airforce to become a Museum?

    Why not have the Dassault production line shifted to India for rafales? What will India gain with only two sqadrons?

  12. @anonymous: kindly get your facts right , SU30 MKI was procured against a well defined air staff requirement , this was the first time Russia supplied their airframe with systems from ISrael and Europe

  13. Why SUKHOI fighter aircrafts and Sukhoi fighter aircraft engines of the Russian airforce have a better performance compared to Sukhois and their engines with the Indian air force .

    It has something to do with the maintenance practices, which needs to be revised if need be . We Indians feel we know more than the OEM once we start operating equipments and platforms.

    The same was reported by a Sukhoi team which investigated engine problems.

  14. Why suddenly the govt feels that old manufacturing lines has to be relocated to India , why not a manufacturing line of a 5th Gen fighter instead of old fourth generation fighters


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