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No formal offer on F/A-18, but in exploratory talks: Boeing

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NEW DELHI (PTI): Aviation giant Boeing on Monday said it wants to build a globally competitive industrial base in India as the American firm was in "exploratory" talks to see if they can manufacture F/A-18 Super Hornet fighters in the country.

Boeing India President Pratyush Kumar said the company is not interested in just assembling the aircraft but making it completely under the 'Make in India' initiative.

However, he said that at the end of the day, the US and India's strategic convergence would be critical for any such initiative.

"Offer is too strong a word. There is no such thing as an offer. There is an initial thinking. We want to create a globally competitive industrial base in India," Kumar told PTI when asked about Boeing's reported offer to the Indian government to manufacture F/A-18 locally.

He said the company thinks that F/A 18 Super Hornet could be an important wedge to create that scale and get going on defence manufacturing on a very large scale.

"So, in that context, we have had initial dialogue, far from being a formal offer or anything like that," Kumar said here.

He said that Boeing has had various dialogues, exploratory discussions with different stakeholders.

Told that Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar has made it clear that 'Make in India' is not about assembly but manufacturing with transfer of technology, he said the company was of the same view.

"Exactly. That is the point we are saying. We are committed to creating a globally competitive eco system. It is not just about final assembly. It is about creating the base of your tier I and tier II suppliers so that we can put complete eco system into place," Kumar said.

He said Boeing is exploring a very different model, which means not relying on just assembly and using kits to manufacture.

He said that from a business point of view, Boeing is always looking for pocket of productivity.

"And India with its deep and broad capability in engineering... we think it is a win-win proposition in the longer run. And that is why we are interested in this," Kumar said.

Asked about Boeing's view on possible restrictions on export of an aircraft manufactured by it in India to some countries which are in the "negative" list, he said it would be a subject to approval by governments in both India and the US.

"At the end of the day, US and India strategic convergence is critical. None of that would be possible without government to government alignment. So that is all subject to government approval, both from US side and the Indian side," Kumar said.

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