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Boeing selects India head to lead its F-15 programme

Boeing India President Pratyush Kumar, who spearheaded Boeing Company’s business expansion in the country, will now lead its F-15 fighter aircraft programme in the United States, the aerospace major said in a statement on Monday.

Kumar had over the last five years lead military and commercial units like Boeing Commercial Airplanes, Boeing Defense, Space & Security and Boeing Global Services in India.

“During his tenure, Boeing launched a rapidly growing engineering and technology centre in Bangalore to drive innovation, scaled up its aerospace supply chain, established a joint venture in Hyderabad with Tata to manufacture fuselages for the Apache attack helicopter, established Boeing Defence India to serve customers locally, finalised the sale of both the Apache and Chinook helicopters to the Indian military, and converted options for the P-8I maritime surveillance aircraft to firm orders,” Boeing said in a statement.

Boeing, which is competing with several global majors to clinch the Indian Air Force’s order for fighter jets, is investing millions of dollars to create an ecosystem for making its product, F/A-18 Super Hornets, in India.

The Indian Air Force (IAF) had on April 6 issued a long-awaited request for information (RFI) to global vendors for the procurement of 110 fighter aircraft. The order for 110 fighter jets is estimated to be worth $15 billion, according to a Bloomberg report.

For the potential air force order, Boeing has tied up with Mahindra Defence System and state-owned Hindustan Aeronautics Ltd (HAL) for producing F/A-18 Super Hornets. It has also spent millions of dollars to create an ecosystem around building the product in India, by building a supplier network.

Kumar had told Mint in May that his company’s investment in India to build its product here could run into billions of dollars and would depend on the number of aircraft the government finally decided to purchase.

On the commercial side of the business, Boeing has a strong order book from India with domestic carriers. Mumbai-based Jet Airways had placed an order for 225 Boeing 737 MAX narrow-body airplanes in three separate batches since 2015, which will be inducted over a 10-year period starting 2018.

SpiceJet had in January 2017 placed an order for 205 Boeing aircraft valued at $22 billion at list price. With the earlier order for 55 planes and 100 additional 737-8 MAX aircraft, the airline firmed up orders for 155 planes, besides purchase rights for 50 B737-8 MAX and other wide-body aircraft.

Vistara has agreed to place $3.1 billion-worth firm orders with Airbus SE and Boeing for 19 aircraft, including 13 narrow-body Airbus aircraft.

Boeing India has not announced Kumar’s replacement yet.

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