Ahead of President Donald Trump’s expected visit later this month, American defence majors are looking at opportunities in the Defence Industrial Corridors in Uttar Pradesh and Tamil Nadu. According to Kenneth I Juster, US Ambassador to India, “The industries in the US and India share a common understanding regarding the nature of the modern battlefield. The US firms which are participating in the exhibition produce battle-proven, high-technology equipment and networks.”
The US companies present at the DefExpo considered the best are supplying the modern land and sea-based fighter aircraft; ballistic missile defence systems; the most advanced, networked avionics equipment; and secure communications equipment for the US and its partners. These companies are willing to offer the same to India.
Several participating companies are already partnering with companies across India, including in Uttar Pradesh’s Defence Corridor, to supply defence equipment not only for India and other militaries too.
“Tata has partnered with Lockheed Martin to create all C-130 tails and F-16 wings here. And Boeing is collaborating with HAL [Hindustan Aeronautics Limited] to supply all AH-64 Apache fuselages in Hyderabad,” said the American envoy.
The architect behind major India-US defence trade, leads the top-level delegation from the US to Defexpo 2020 – Dr Vivek Lall
The US Delegation led by Dr Vivek Lall is here to explore unprecedented partnership opportunities and sources have indicated there may be announcements of tie-ups.
The Lockheed Martin delegation is being led by Lall, who is world-renowned aerospace scientist Vice President of Strategy and Business Development.
Lall who has been appointed to the US Federal Aviation Advisory Committee almost two years ago has been key to several crucial India-US Defence deals. Sources have indicated that India is in the final stage of clearing the much needed 24 multi-role helicopters for the Indian Navy from Lockheed Martin.
Prior to his appointment at Lockheed Martin, he was Chief Executive in charge of the US and International Strategic Development at General Atomics (makers of the Predator UAV’s) based in San Diego.
As has been reported by the Financial Express Online earlier, India is in advanced talks with the US Government for procurement of 30 armed Guardians for all three services. And the credit behind the path-breaking agreement by the White House to release category 1 UAV’s to India, a non-NATO country goes to Lall. In fact, President Trump and Prime Minister Narendra Modi had noted this acquisition in their joint statement in Washington DC.
From 1996-2011, he held numerous marketing and engineering leadership roles with The Boeing Company in Seattle including the Airplane Performance and Propulsion Group.
When he was the Vice President and India Country Head, Boeing Defense Space & Security, he led a team to conclude the path breaking and largest ever US-India defence deals.
He oversaw multiple campaigns as well as pan India strategic industrial tie-ups. He also worked as an adjunct faculty member at Embry- Riddle, McConnell Air Force Base and has also served as the founding Co – Chair of the US – India Aviation Cooperation Program launched by Norman Mineta in 2005. Prior to Boeing he worked for Raytheon and conducted research with NASA Ames Research Center in various multidisciplinary engineering fields.
He has been a recipient of several honours including the 2008 OCA National Asian Pacific American Corporate Achievement Award in the US. Cambridge recognized him as one of few Outstanding Scientists of the Twentieth Century.
Besides authoring over a hundred articles in various journals, he was also trained as a private pilot at the Phoenix International Flight Training Centre in Florida.
“At Boeing, we ensure that the training, support and maintenance stay with the customer for a long time,” says Mark Ballew, vice president, Global Sales and Marketing, Boeing International Government and Defence.
The aerospace major is working with the Indian Air Force and Indian Navy to provide training and support of Boeing aircraft such as the P-8I, C-17 and the Head of State aircraft. Also, the C-17 Global Integrated Sustainment Partnership program has become a model for the future of sustainment.
In an interaction, Ballew explained that Boeing Global Services provides customers around the world with greater lifecycle value. “This is done by driving innovation in capabilities, such as engineering, modifications, maintenance, digital solutions and analytics, supply chain and training. It focuses on keeping customers’ aircraft and platforms ready to perform their missions, especially in harsh operating environments that create wear and tear.”
According to him, “Services is vital for the customers because once an aircraft is ordered then delivered, 70 per cent of the value to work and maintain that aircraft is directly related to lifecycle costs.”
With less than 20 per cent of the worldwide fleet of military aircraft expected to be retired and replaced over the next ten years, the demand for services to maintain ageing aircraft, an extension of service life, and to enhance aircraft capability will grow faster than overall fleet size.
Said Surendra Ahuja, managing director, Boeing Defence India, “Boeing is in a unique position to deliver lifecycle value to ensure high availability of platforms to our defence customers at competitive costs.”
The Company is also in discussions with its customers on how best to incorporate digitization and predictive maintenance offerings to bring more predictability into the Services model.
The C-17 fleet has been a vital part of the India Air Force’s strategic airlift capability while the P-8I has been an integral part of the Indian Navy’s long-range maritime reconnaissance missions.
Also, the Company is providing training and sustainment services since the first delivery of the aircraft in 2013 to the Indian Air Force and a three-year training renewal agreement in 2019 for C-17 training services for the Indian Air Force has already been signed. The C-17 simulator training centre in Gurgaon has completed thousands of training hours for aircrews and loadmasters and have a 100 per centre serviceability rate.
Both India and Boeing have signed a contract for a training and support package for India’s P8I fleet and towards this a Training Support & Data Handling Centre is coming up at INS Rajali with a secondary centre at Kochi. This will help the Indian Navy crew to increase proficiency in a shorter time while reducing the on-aircraft training time resulting in increased aircraft availability for mission tasking.
With the induction of the Apache and Chinook, Boeing is working with the IAF on rotorcraft training and support requirements.
Building on the company’s eight decades of its presence in the country and growing local service capabilities Boeing will be proposing a “By India – For India” sustainment program when it offers the F/A-18 Super Hornet that brings transformative capability and contemporary warfighter technologies to India.