U.S. defense giant Boeing has no firm plans to jointly develop aircraft with India, but recognizes this may be a step it needs to take in the future.

“I think we have to take it one step at a time. We’re looking at what sort of agreements make sense and I wouldn’t rule it out,” says Mark Kronenberg, VP of international business development for Boeing Defense, Space & Security, on the sidelines at Aero India this week.

He says if Boeing were to develop an aircraft with India, it would have to be for the U.S. and international market, not just the Indian market.

Kronenberg also says: “I think there is some interest on the part of Indian industry on how they can penetrate the U.S. defense market.”

Russia in recent years has secured some large aircraft orders from India by agreeing to let India be a partner in aircraft programs. India and Russia have agreed to develop a fifth-generation fighter, based on Russia’s PAK-FA, which will be sold in large quantities to India’s air force. The two countries also are working to develop a military transport aircraft that will eventually replace India’s large fleet of Antonov An-32s.

Kronenberg says when he first started attending Aero India 10 years ago, it was very much a Russian and Israeli show. But now North American and European companies have penetrated the Indian market and have a strong presence.

That said, the Russians will always be there, he says. “If you look at the India-Russia relationship, it goes back to 1962. I don’t think that relationship will ever go [in] reverse. I think India will have a relationship with the U.S., Europeans and Russians. But the difference is five years ago they didn’t really have a relationship with the U.S. [defense establishment].”

One of the major hurdles the U.S. and India have overcome in recent years, and one that has paved the way for closer cooperation in defense, is the sharing of confidential information, he adds.