There has been some speculation that the Indian navy’s aircraft carrier ambition could be a handicap for Boeing’s F/A-18E/F Super Hornet in the MMRCA fighter competition. The argument goes that if the Indian navy buys the Super Hornet, why should India also buy the aircraft for the MMRCA?
But Boeing officials discount such calculations, arguing it is more wishful thinking by rivals than anything substantive. There have not been any discussions with the Indian navy about a Super Hornet purchase, says Rick McCrary, Boeing’s business development lead for the Indian MMRCA competition.
The Indian carrier program remains linked to the MiG-29. While McCrary says the Super Hornet may be an option “in the outyears” for the Indian navy, that’s all it is for now.
And, he points out, that as in many other forces, the Indian air force and navy do not generally coordinate their procurement plans.
McCrary also discounts a linkage between the recent GE F414 engine selection for the LCA, even though that would give Boeing and Saab’s Gripen an advantage since they use the same GE motor.
As for the actual competition, McCrary expects a downselect in India not before February’s Bangalore air show. A single type selection would come during the summer.
Who will survive? McCrary’s guess, right now, is the “big twins” will make the cut, the others will be dropped. Given he’s in the business of selling a big twin, that’s no surprise. But he argues that the MMRCA requirement has evolved away from the single-engine aircraft over time.
Whether there will be a downselect at all remains uncertain.
So how does Boeing see the recent Indian-Russian tie-up on the PAK FA? McCrary does not see it impacting the MMRCA, nor does it mean India is again turning heavily to Russia for its aircraft fighter needs. If anything, he says the deal means India can more easily drop the MiG-35, since it has underpinned its strategic relationship with Russia via the future program.