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Big budget Boeing miffed with Modi over Make-in-India

Wed, Feb 17, 2016, 12:52 PM
Big budget Boeing is miffed that Prime Minister Narendra Modi has ignored the American giant while beholding a $150b weapons hub in India.

Boeing lost out in 2012 to the smaller French rival Dassault Aviation's Rafale in what was then the biggest fighter-jet deal on record.

"If India wants to jump start an aerospace economy, do you want to do that with Dassault -- that's about a $5 billion company -- or do you want to do that with Boeing, which is a $97 billion aerospace company?" Jeff Kohler, vice-president of global sales for Boeing's defence unit, said in an interview in Singapore on Monday.

Modi has set an ambitious goal of shifting India from the world's biggest weapons importer into a global hub for defense manufacturing. The country sold about $150 million of arms in the last fiscal year - a fraction of the $64 billion in worldwide defense trade and its own imports of $5.6 billion.

Often the need to quickly replenish ageing weapons has taken priority over making them in India. Last April, Modi scaled back the deal with Dassault to buy 36 Rafale fighter jets off the shelf instead of building 126 in India after negotiations hit repeated delays. That effort, too, has since stalled over price.

Fighter jet makers including Boeing and Saab AB (Sweden) are now gearing up for another shot at supplying India's ageing fleet. About a third of the Indian Air Force's 650 planes are more than 40 years old and set to retire in the next decade.

"Size matters -- in this case, the ability for us to work across the board: commercial, defence, space," said Kohler. "Dassault can't bring that, Saab can't bring that."

What matters, so far as India is concerned, is not size, but the need. The US has given Pakistan a squadron of F-16s recently. Could Boeing have prevented that? Big budget is not sufficient, a big heart is also needed. Look at Russian MiGs and what havoc they have played in wars with Pakistan. India should be happy with Sukhois instead.
Agency: Ap7am Desk

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