by Nishant Sharma

BANGALORE: Boeing Co. said it will build a new factory in the country to make its F/A-18 Super Hornet if it gets the $20-billion fighter jet deal but technology transfer will depend on the decision of the U.S. administration.

“We want to bring the factory to India that will produce one of the most advanced fighter jets for the Indian Air Force,” Thomas Breckenridge, vice president, international sales, strike, surveillance and mobility at Boeing Defence, Space and Security in India, said on the sidelines Aero India 2019. It has partnered with the Mahindra & Mahindra Ltd. and Hindustan Aeronautics Ltd. as part of the strategic partner program.

But full technology transfer as part of the deal will be the decision of the U.S. government.

Boeing is one of the seven players that vie for the 114-fighter jet programme along with Saab’s Gripen E, Lockheed Martin’s newly F-21, Dassault Aviation’s Rafale and Airbus’s Eurofighter.

What gives Boeing’s jet an edge over competitors? Breckenridge said it is the pricing and also parallel infrastructure Boeing has set up in the country. “We have been present in India for seven decades and have invested significant amount of resources already.”

Breckenridge said Boeing is also comfortable with conditions in India’s ongoing bidding programme for medium multi-role fighter jet, especially the one that disallows foreign players to have a majority stake in the strategic partnership programme. “We are comfortable with the nature of rules here.”

Its competitor SAAB, however, told on Thursday that it would want majority control in the deal as the firm will be liable for the quality and reliability of the jets.