Defence Manufacturing- Fighters

As reported, ‘American aerospace giant Boeing announced its tie-up with Hindustan Aeronautics Ltd and Mahindra Defence Systems to manufacture F/A-18 Super Hornet fighter jets in India.’ The joint venture will have a dedicated new manufacturing plant (Pratyush Kumar, President, Boeing India; T Suvarna Raju, CMD, Hindustan Aeronautics Ltd; and SP Shukla, Group President, Aerospace and Defence, Mahindra Group, participated in MoU signing ceremony.) Boeing wishes to cash on Indian Air Force immediate requirements of 110 fighters jets worth a $15-billion deal. And the Indian Navy has also asked for sanction to purchase 57 multi-role carrier borne fighters (MRCBF) for around $12 billion. HAL is well in the business with considerable amount of competency to build warplanes with Tejas now in serial production with three production lines. It has a good aircraft design centre too with DRDO as mentor. Mahindra Aerospace and Defence has experience of smaller civil planes and aero components’ export. The expertise of both the Indian companies will facilitate to drastically bring down the cost of each F/A-18. It is expected to make the preference to tilt towards Boeing offer against that of the Russians readying to offer the advanced MiG-35 which is at a lower cost compared to others. As such, Super Hornet is claimed as the most advanced and least expensive aircraft per flight hour of its kind. The F/A-1.8 Super Hornet will deliver on India’s need for a carrier and land based multi-role fighter. The Super Hornet will have not only a low acquisition cost, but it also costs less per flight hour to operate than any other tactical aircraft in U.S. forces inventory. And with a plan for constant innovation, the F/A-i8 Super Hornet, as claimed, outpace threats, bolster defence capabilities and make India stronger for decades to come. On the other hand, Lockheed Martin has also expressed its readiness to shift its F-16 fighter aircraft manufacturing unit to India — and the US government, according to the manufacturer, will allow it to do so. @Lockheed , as bonus, is also prepared to transfer the technology of its third generation anti-armour Javelin guided missile system to India for its future manufacture.

My comments: HAL should not join the venture that Boeing is looking for a long time. HAL perhaps already exports components to Boeing. Instead, HAL must focus fully on design, development and manufacturing of its own fighters and helicopters of all types and requirements for defence as well as civil uses hiving off its other secondary divisions to private companies in coming years. Idea must be to become a global defence manufacturing company. It must also have a separate independent unit to design, develop, manufacture the engines too for all its planes and helicopters and application pulling the best Indian talents working anywhere in the world in next 5-10 years under the mentor ship of DRDO.

Instead of HAL, Indian Government must facilitate Boeing for the tie up with Tata Group for Hornet-18. Boeing has already joint venture with Tata group (TASL) for components which also has collaborated with GE for engine components and assembly. It will be in interest for the country to have at least two fully integrated plants -one in public and another in private sector competing with each other, each aiming at exporting up to 30% to the friendly countries around.

@Lockheed, the Boeing rival from US, has teamed up with Tata Sons offering its F-16s. Lockheed had offered to move its sole F-16 production line, currently in Greenville, South Carolina, to India to make the planes at a joint factory with Tata. It certainly does not serve the purpose of having a joint venture to develop, design,prototype manufacturing and testing of fighters of contemporary with features and performances of top 3-4 best of the world.Both US companies must agree to keep on updating the technologies in collaborations with Indian partners.


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