Fe’s Huma Siddiqui interview with Vivek Lall, vice-president and India country head, Boeing’s Integrated Defense Systems.
Tell us something about Boeing’s growing focus on the defence sector in the Indian market?
Over the last four-five years, we have entered the defence segment. We come into the market with aspirations to be India's preferred partner. The Apache and the Chinook CH-47 are shortly going for summer trials. The US Congress has been informed about the possible sale of 10 C-17 Globemaster strategic air lifters, potentially valued at $5.8 bn. This strengthens the growing partnership between the two countries.
The competition for the MMRCA (Medium multi-role combat aircraft) deal is very significant for all companies involved. We have completed all of the three trials. I think it is a very strategic acquisition, considering the number of competitors, but the Ministry of Defence has done a great job and done a thorough process. We want to establish a strong India footprint, regardless of the platform sales. This is a very important dimension to our company.
What is the progress on forging an industrial partnership with India?
We have a $600 million-plus (Rs 2,777 crore) commitment on offsets for the P-81. A $4.7 million (Rs 22 crore) contract with Hindustan Aeronautics Ltd has been signed to provide weapon bay doors for the eight P-81 long-range maritime reconnaissance and anti-submarine warfare aircraft for the Indian Navy. We have an engagement strategy for India and want to make it part of our international supply chain. We want to be partners in India's mission to become self-reliant and a net exporter of defence products. As part of our F/A-18E/F campaign, we have signed 13 MoUs with Indian companies. This conglomerate has signed up with a cross section of 38 Indian companies for offsets. We have been looking at SMEs too.
How practical is India’s offset policy?
India’s Defence procurement process is very forward-looking. We applaud the policy. The MoD introduced banking offsets. It is a welcome addition as it incentives the original equipment manufacturers to work with the Indian partner. The buy-and-make clause shows the government’s confidence in the industry
We want India to be part of our international supply chain