Boeing eyes jump in India defence deals
US AIRCRAFT manufacturer Boeing Co is looking to bid for defence projects worth up to $31bn (£21bn) over the next 10 years in India, as strategic ties between the two countries deepen.
"It is a $31bn market for us to bid in the defence sector and rising," Vivek Lall, India country head of Boeing's Integrated Defense Systems (IDS), told 2 on Wednesday.
"There is a tremendous growth prospect in India and it is no longer about buying and selling, it is now about being a fabric of the country, being a partner and a preferred partner," Lall said in an interview in New Delhi.
The company has also submitted a bid for six medium range naval warfare aircraft contract, weeks after it signed a $2.1bn (£1.2bn) contract for eight P-8I warfare planes.
"It is a P-8I derivative and is a good fit for the navy to consider it," Lall said.
The Indian Navy is keen to replace its ageing fleet of aircraft with state-of-the-art fighters with latest technology.
Lall said the P-8I contract was the perfect example of how India is getting the latest technology for its defence forces.
"It is a shining example of something unprecedented, we have the U.S. Navy and the Indian Navy receiving the aircraft at the same time," Lall said.
Boeing plans to make inroads into the South Asian defence market and has already submitted a bid for a contract to supply India with 126 multi-role fighter jets, potentially worth more than $10bn (£7bn).
Lall said Boeing's India projection for defence projects could get revised as the defence sector opens up further, following a landmark Indo-US civilian nuclear deal signed last November.
The deal gave New Delhi access to civilian nuclear fuel and technology on the international market for the first time in three decades, helping boost business confidence in India.
"The bridging of the Indo-US relationship has really helped us. Things that are happening in the defence sector now, we could not think about it a few years ago," Lall said.
India, fast becoming one of the world's biggest arms importers, wants to modernise its air force, the fourth largest in the world, to cope with possible security threats in the region, security experts said.
India is looking to spend $30bn (£20bn) on imports over the next five years to modernise its largely Soviet-era arms by introducing new weapons systems.
Separately, Boeing is focusing on the services sector in India in 2009, by providing spare parts and software to India along with its subsidiary companies.
The company has already submitted a detailed proposal to the Indian government to help build the country's aerospace industry and transfer defence technology to meet government conditions for defence contracts.
"We want to establish a strong India footprint, regardless of the platform sales and that is a very important dimension to our company in 2009," Lall said.
From just one office in 2005, the company now has nine offices in India and will expand further, Lall added.
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