Boeing Co. is looking to close a deal with India to build its F/A-18 Super Hornet there, as New Delhi considers options for its current and next-generation aircraft carriers.
The Indian Navy currently has only one fixed wing carrier, the INS Vikramaditya, and it is a ski-jump design; two additional carriers are being built with a similar ski-jump design, formally called short-takeoff but arrested recovery (STOBAR) carriers. The Indian Navy uses the Russian-built MiG-29K as its naval fighter, but these have been plagued with serviceability problems.
In addition to the F/A-18 Super Hornet, the Indians are also considering the Rafale, Gripen, and MiG-29K for an initial purchase of 57 aircraft — a number that will likely go up as the Indian carrier fleet expands. The navy is also designing and planning to field catapult assisted takeoff but arrested recovery (CATOBAR) in the 2020s, so whatever design it picks will have to be robust and durable.
That said, the F/A-18 Super Hornet is a proven commodity. It was built with carrier duty as a priority, has proven its worth, and Boeing says it is able to launch from ski-jump-style carrier decks.
Source: The Drive
Why it’s on our radar: As tensions rise between the U.S., Russia, and China, Washington could use a great power friend in Asia, and India — which has been fiercely independent through the decades — is an obvious choice. A deal with an American aircraft maker to build fighter planes there would go a long way towards solidifying Washington-New Delhi cooperation.
Besides, with India facing down China over a small strip of land in the Himalayans as China becomes more aggressive on the high seas, forging a closer alliance with the U.S. would also be in New Delhi’s interests as well. A true win-win.
The F/A-18 Super Hornet offers more than just combat capability, it offers an opportunity for a lasting mutually beneficial relationship with a superpower. The one snag: President Trump campaigned on — and won — on an “America first” pledge. It’s not certain he’d be willing to have his administration sign off on an aircraft manufacturing deal that would see Boeing build a new assembly facility in India rather than in the United States. But he might, given the strategic implications of any such deal.