Boeing is in talks with the Indian navy on a follow-on order of four P-8I maritime surveillance and anti-submarine warfare aircraft in addition to the eight ordered in 2009.

“We have been in discussion with the Indian navy on advancing the options,” says Dennis Swanson, vice president of international business development for Boeing Defense, Space & Security in India. “We are working with the customer [India] and the customer will decide when the time is appropriate. We stand by ready to engage with them.”

The P-8I program was part of a $2.1 billion deal signed by India. P-8Is are variants of the P-8A Poseidon that Boeing is developing for the U.S. Navy. The P-8I is likely to replace the Indian navy’s fleet of Russian-origin Tu-142 and Il-38 aircraft for maritime reconnaissance purposes.

“The P-8I program is progressing extremely well . . . and we are on track to start delivery of the aircraft within 2013,” Swanson adds.

Elucidating the list of defense deals the company is eyeing in India, Swanson says “we are making a lot of progress. Boeing defense sees a $32 billion market over the next 10 years. . . . Our future opportunities, besides the P-8I, include follow-on options for C-17, and rotorcraft.”

Asked about the C-17 Globemaster cargo aircraft program for the Indian air force (IAF), Swanson says the company will begin delivery of the aircraft in 2013-14.

“The C-17 order from India was for 10 aircraft,” he says. “There were no options identified as part of that particular contract. But if the air force wants to enter into discussion or dialogue, we stand by ready to have those particular discussions on the C-17s.”

In June 2011 India signed a contract for 10 C-17s, capable of carrying 164,900 lb. of cargo from a 7,000-ft. airstrip. The four-engine aircraft can transport battle tanks and combat-ready troops over 2,400 nm.

Boeing also is vying for the $1.5 billion contract to supply 22 attack helicopters for the IAF by offering its Block III AH-64D Apache Longbow.

“There is a competition and we stand ready to take the next step in the process with the ministry of defense,” Swanson says. “Right now, we have submitted our technical requirements . . . and we are being evaluated.”

According to Indian defense ministry sources, the IAF is likely to opt for the Apache over the Russian Mi-28N Night Hunter. The AH-64D being offered to the IAF has 26 technology insertions and an enhanced transmission that increases power and thrust, according to Swanson. At present, India is operating Russian-made Mi-25/-35s acquired during the 1980s. 

Boeing also is discussing a proposal to sell the CH-47 Chinook helicopter. India is looking to buy more than a dozen heavy-lift helicopters for the IAF at an estimated cost of over $1 billion.  

“Currently, we are in discussion for the heavy-lift CH-47, an exceptional aircraft that is in competition with [the latest version of the Russian] Mi-26. We have provided the technical information that is required . . . and we are waiting for the customer to tell us what the next step within the process is,” Swanson says. 

India has been using four Mi-26s, the 1980s vintage for heavy-lift purposes. 

“We look forward to a positive decision [in all these proposals] . . . and we see handsome opportunity for growth, not just to be able to sell and market our platforms, but to be able to create true partnerships.” 

Regarding the Indian government’s decision last year to cut Boeing’s F/A-18E/F Super Hornet from its fighter competition on technical grounds, Swanson lauded the  “transparency in decision-making” in such deals.

Asked about the often drawn-out defense equipment procurement process in India, the Boeing executive says his company has “not been facing any stumbling blocks.

“The platforms have met the technical requirements. There has been a very open, transparent process.  The ministry of defense 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,” Swanson says.

Boeing has been engaged with Indian suppliers for technology transfer, work placement and production assistance. “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 Indian navy aircraft, ships and shore establishments,” Swanson says. “BEL also has delivered the Identification Friend or Foe Interrogator, a battle management system that will enable P-8I aircraft to distinguish friendly aircraft and forces.”

Dynamatic Technologies and Tata Advanced Materials Ltd. (TAML) have already delivered P-8I power and mission equipment cabinets, and TAML is on contract to provide P-8I auxiliary power unit door fairings.