The Apache Attack Gunship is made by Boeing, one of the world's leading defence contractors

Defence equipment makers are said to be reluctant to set up fully integrated facilities in India over technology transfers and lack of clarity over future orders. Boeing, vying for the fighter jet deal, said it has no such worry.

“I think there is a perspective out there that some of the foreign OEMs (original equipment makers) like Boeing, even those who have set up Indian companies like Boeing Defence India, have concerns about that (setting up local facilities),” Salil Gupte, president, Boeing India, said. “I can assure you that we don't. There will be an opportunity to partner with those future OEMs as well to make, not just for India, but for the world.”

Boeing, the maker of commercial aircraft, fighter jets and satellites, is among the companies participating in the 11th edition of India’s biennial Defence Expo in Lucknow, Uttar Pradesh. It's pitching for a strategic partnership in the aircraft segment with Mahindra Defence Naval Systems and state-owned Hindustan Aeronautics Ltd. for its F-18 Super Hornet Block-3 fighter jet to be made in India. “We are the only public-private partnership to come forward for this programme,” said Gupte.

Other contenders include Lockheed Martin's F-21, Dassault Aviation's Rafale, Saab's Gripen and BAE Systems Eurofighter Typhoon.

Manufacturers to suppliers are courting India for orders as Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s government looks to overhaul India’s capabilities by an estimated spending of $130 billion in the next five to seven years.

Yet, India hasn’t placed big-ticket orders with the government going slow on submarine project and the medium multi-role combat aircraft procurement, which was cut in size to buy Rafale jets in a flyaway condition. The budget 2020 provides a capital outlay of Rs 1.13 lakh crore for defence but it’s mostly for upgrades and earlier orders.

Boeing is already supplying to India. Since last year, it has delivered 17 of 22 Apache and 10 out of 15 Chinook helicopters to the Air Force. It is negotiating another six for the Indian Army. The deal is part of the foreign military sales and required the U.S. government approval.

While Apaches are assembled in Arizona, U.S., its fuselage was built in Hyderabad at a facility built along with by the TATA Advanced Systems. The U.S. aircraft maker employs more than 13,000 and sources over $1 billion in equipment from India.

Boeing is investing in India through its engineering centres in Chennai and Bangalore. “We have over 3,500 people working on aerospace engineering in these centres. We have teams that are working on digital aviation, which is leveraging the use of artificial intelligence and data analytics that are working to turn that data into insights and systems made for optimised and efficient aeroplane,” said Gupte.