Boeing has moved on after being rejected in the competition for the medium multi-role combat jet contract in India last year and is aiming for other opportunities to help New Delhi modernize its armed services and enhance its aerospace industry. In an exclusive interview with Aviation Week, Dennis. D. Swanson, International Business Development Vice President of Boeing Defense, Space & Security in India, talked about Boeing’s strategy in India, offset plans and the ensuing DefExpo in the country.

Aviation Week: What is your reaction to the Rafale selection in the MMRCA competition? Do you have a chance of coming back into the competition?

Dennis Swanson: We respect the customer’s decision. There has been a lot of transparency with the decision process. The communication with customers has been strong. The requirements were explained to us from a technical perspective. We have had a lot of success with C-17 and P-8I and we’ll show great value on Apache and Chinook.


AW: What are your future opportunities for the short term and long term in India?


DS: We see a $32 billion market in India over the next 10 years. Boeing has been in India for 70 years, and BDS for the last six years. Our future opportunities include follow-on options for C-17, P-8I and rotorcraft [the AH-64 Apache attack helicopter and CH-47 Chinook heavy lift helicopter]. Of these, the P-8I program is proceeding extremely well. [The] customer is satisfied and we are on track for a Q1 2013 delivery. The P-8I celebrated its first flight on Sept. 28, 2011. Regarding the C-17s, we had signed a contract for 10 C-17s in June 2011. We have already delivered 240 aircraft to the USAF and international countries. The baseline contract [for India] allows for only 10 aircraft. If IAF wants to enter into a dialogue for additional follow-on options, we stand ready for discussion. The first program management review on C-17 is being held in the U.S. to go over infrastructure and other details and will be attended by IAF, USAF, [and] Boeing. India will get the latest Block III configuration of the Apache, which has 27 technology insertions. These insertions reduce operational cost and increase thrust [and] power, making it a very powerful asset. We stand by ready to take the next step in the process with MoD.


AW: Has the order for additional P-8I options been finalized?

DS: We have been in discussion with the customer on the options. The baseline contract has an option for four additional aircraft. The original contract was for eight P-8I, and the contract was signed in January 2009.


AW: How is it going with offsets? BDS has a substantial obligation to fulfill.

DS: Boeing has a long history of doing offsets and has successfully completed $42 billion in 40 countries. We have had flawless execution and anticipate no less in India. I cannot identify specific projects, but we are confident that we will execute as we are committed to do. We have a 30% offset requirement on our programs. The Ministry of Defense has done a good job informing us about what is required and enforcing what needs to be compliant.  

AW: What stumbling blocks do you have with deals in India?

DS: We do not face any stumbling blocks. The platforms have met the technical requirements. There has been a very open, transparent process. The MoD, in collaboration with the different branches of the armed forces, has done a very good job of identifying what they need and articulating it in the RFP.


AW: Can you elaborate on your engagements with Indian suppliers?

DS: We continue to work with private sector, government sector and industry to expand our partnerships. Boeing sees great value in partnering with India. A company like Boeing can partner with India with respect to technology transfer, work placement and production assistance. HAL is currently contracted to manufacture the F/A-18 gun bay door, F/A-18 wire harnesses, P-8I weapons bay doors, P-8I tailcones, and P-8I Identification Friend or Foe Transponder (IFFT). Bharat Electronics Limited (BEL) has delivered the Indian-designed Data Link II for the P-8I, a communications system that will enable exchange of tactical data and messages between the Indian navy aircraft, ships and shore establishments. BEL has also delivered the Identification Friend or Foe Interrogator (IFFI), a battle management system that will enable P-8I aircraft to distinguish friendly aircraft and forces. Finally, BEL is on contract to provide F/A-18 cockpit panels and has already started delivering on that contract.

Boeing opened the Boeing Analysis & Experimentation Center (A&E Center) in partnership with BEL in February 2009. Based in Bengaluru, the center provides defense experimentation and decision support services to understand the future warfighting needs of the Indian armed forces. The center is staffed with former Indian military personnel and modeling and simulation engineers from Boeing. The Boeing team works hand-in-hand with BEL personnel, with plans to create a BEL node in the future. In addition to Defense Public Sector Undertakings (DPSUs), private industry companies play a large role in Boeing’s industrial strategy. Dynamatic Technologies and Tata Advanced Materials Limited (TAML) have already delivered P-8I power and mission equipment cabinets and TAML is on contract to provide P-8I Auxiliary Power Unit (APU) door fairings. Beyond direct work placement, Boeing collaborates with Indian industrial partners on lean manufacturing techniques and Boeing’s program management and supplier management best practices. Boeing also is looking at ways to partner with several small and medium enterprises throughout India.  

AW. Are you doing anything with ISRO on space exploration?

DS: We had discussions with ISRO on various programs. At this particular point , there are no active programs with regard to defense or commercial space.


AW: Do you have any plans to establish a manufacturing center in India?

DS: No, there hasn’t been any discussion on a Boeing manufacturing entity in India. We can definitely leverage some work with the industry, and we believe that with our relationships and partnerships, we can accomplish what we need to do.


AW: How is the MRO project progressing in Nagpur?

DS: It is progressing well.


AW: About Boeing’s growth prospects?

DS: In India we see a $32 billion opportunity over the next 10 years. [The] international market has always been important for both Boeing Commercial and Boeing Defense. But recently U.S. Defense Secretary Leon Panetta had announced a budget decrease of $478 billion over the next decade. We are still evaluating what the impact is to the Boeing Co. We are also evaluating that international growth is really going to be key to the success of BDS. In 2005, international markets constituted 7% of total BDS revenues. In 2011, that number is at 23% and expected to grow to 25%-30% by 2013. Our products and services and support will constitute a large part of that business.

We will continue to work toward that objective and that’s where India plays a key market that matches the market perspective, the services and support that we can also provide which is a growing market.


AW: What has Boeing in store for the DefExpo India 2012?

DS: At Defexpo, we will be showcasing many of our platforms, including exhibits of C-17, P-8I, 737 family, Chinook, Apache and V-22. We will have briefings on our Analysis & Experimentation center and the capabilities that it can provide the armed forces. Support and training is a growing market in India, and we’d like to showcase our offerings.  We’ll have people from the programs on hand for briefings. We’re at a very preliminary planning stage, but let me share with you that Apache trainer will be on display. We’ll also highlight the P-8I using a console. Our continuing theme will be on enduring partnerships with India.