India, US start discussions on F-15EX and F/A-18 Super Hornet : Boeing

The US and India have held discussions on F-15EX and F/A-18 Super Hornet fighter jets. The two respective air forces have exchanged information about both aircraft. These discussions have taken place after Boeing received approval from the American government to offer its latest multi-role combat aircraft to the IAF.

By Harkirpal Singh, Updated : Feb 01, 2021 16:49 IST
India, US start discussions on F-15EX and F/A-18 Super Hornet : Boeing
F-15EX & F/A-18 Super Hornet

The F-15EX is the latest and most advanced variant of the multi-role, all-weather, and day and night versions of the F-15 family. “There have been discussions between the two governments and the two Air Forces have exchanged information about the F-15EX,” Maria H Laine, vice president, Boeing International Sales, and Industrial Partnerships told PTI in a joint interview with Jeff Shockey, vice president, Global Sales and Marketing, Boeing Defence, Space & Security, and Boeing Global Services.

“Since the US Government approved our license request to offer F-15EX to India, we are starting to have more discussions about the platform,” Laine said. The US Air Force awarded Boeing an indefinite-delivery/indefinite-quantity contract with a ceiling value of nearly USD 23 billion in July 2020, she added.

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“It certainly sends a powerful signal when the US government makes a commitment to a platform like this that they’re in it or the long haul and are showing faith and confidence in the capability and price point of the F-15EX– piques interest in the US and around the world,” Shockey said.

In April 2019, the IAF issued an RFI (request for information) or initial tender to acquire 114 jets at a cost of around USD 18 billion, which is billed as one of the world’s biggest military procurements in recent years. The top contenders for the deal include Lockheed’s F-21, Dassault Aviation’s Rafale, the Eurofighter Typhoon, the Russian-made MiG 35, and Saab’s Gripen.

Boeing said the F-15EX will be exhibited at the Aero India 2021 in Bengaluru beginning next week. Responding to a question, Laine said the Block III Super Hornet for the Indian Navy is the newest, highly capable, affordable, and available attack fighter on offer to India. “We look forward to responding to the RFP (request for proposal) when it is released later this year,” she said.

Headed to India to attend the Aero India show in Bengaluru this week, she said that F/A-18 Super Hornet recently demonstrated its compatibility with Indian Navy carriers by successfully concluding the ski-jump test program. A F/A-18 Super Hornet selection offers several advantages to India, she said.

With the Super Hornet being the frontline fighter for the US Navy, cooperation between the two navies in naval aviation can unlock the potential of cooperation in naval aviation, with the sharing of best practices in modern naval aviation systems, carrier integration know-how, services, and training, and weapon systems, she added.

“The F/A-18 can act as force multipliers for the Indian Navy as it can interface with assets such as P-8I. In addition, with both one-seat and two-seat variants, Super Hornet is capable of performing all missions from the carrier, including training,” Laine said. The F/A-18 Super Hornet has the lowest operation and support cost of any tactical aircraft in the US, including single-engine fighters, she said.

The US Navy operates more than 600 Super Hornets and Growlers. Multi-billion dollar investments that have gone in infusing new technologies in the aircraft by the US Navy and several international customers. “…..given the current economic environment, customers can benefit from its affordable acquisition cost and cost of operations.

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The Super Hornet costs less per flight hour to operate than any other tactical aircraft in the US forces inventory, including single-engine fighters, because of its durability and ease of maintenance,” Laine said. According to Indian Navy, There is a requirement of 57 fighter jets that have the capability to take off from Ski-Jump based aircraft carriers.  

Indian Navy and IAF, both are currently looking forward to procuring the latest, state of the art fighter jets in order to replace aging Mig-29Ks and Mig-21s. However, the budget constraints and long evaluation procedures may make it very difficult for any deal to reach its final stage any time soon.

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