Despite what many predict will be an off-year in Indian defense procurement due to electoral politics, Boeing expects to finalize a number of key contracts there in 2014.
That includes finally completing the deal with the Indian air force for 15 heavy-lift CH-47 Chinook helicopters with an option to buy an additional seven, estimated at about $1 billion. The company also expects to complete another deal worth about $1.4 billion for 22 AH-64E Apache aircraft for the Indian air force with an option to buy another 11. In addition, Boeing is working with the Indian navy to finalize an option to buy another four P-8 maritime surveillance aircraft.
“I’m certainly bullish on 2014,” says Dennis Swanson, Boeing’s vice president for defense, space and security in India. “I do see in 2014 and 2015 a lot more areas of collaboration.”
But more than deals for aircraft, the discussion at the DefExpo 2014 conference here has been about support and training activities, Swanson said. India’s push to build its own industrial base includes discussion about how Boeing can localize its support and spare parts activities. While Boeing already has a deal with India on supporting the C-17, support for other platforms is “still in development,” he says. “We’re early in those discussions to find the indigenous suppliers who can supply spare parts, fix components that might need testing.”
But the current focus on sustainment is Boeing’s way of continuing to build a long-term relationship with India, rather than a sign that military acquisitions here have peaked. “The customer has told us … we’re at the very beginning in terms of the platforms and capabilities and aircraft that we can provide. So we do see good business going forward,” Swanson says.