Exuding confidence that the US-India ties will continue to evolve and grow at a strategic level, a Boeing official has said that there are “good early signs" in the new Biden administration that the positive relationship will grow and strengthen over the next several years.

Jeff Shockey, vice president, Global Sales and Marketing, Boeing Defence, Space & Security and Boeing Global Services, said there was bipartisan support on Capitol Hill for strengthening ties between the two nations.

“We’re seeing good early signs in the new administration that the positive relationship will grow and strengthen over the next several years. We also welcome Prime Minister (Narendra) Modi's leadership and commitment for a greater US-Indian partnership," Shockey told PTI in an interview.

“There is bipartisan support on Capitol Hill and I’m very confident that under this administration and future administrations, the relationship between our two countries will continue to evolve and grow at a strategic level," he said in a joint interview with Maria H Laine, vice president, Boeing International Sales and Industrial Partnerships.

Over the last decade, Boeing has been one of the prime drivers of India-US defence trade.

“I see it continuing to strengthen and grow in the future. We’ve seen our defence business grow from zero over a decade ago to $18 billion and now we’re projecting about $22 billion in the coming years," Laine said.

Notable is the fact that over three-fourths of all US defence trade in India is by Boeing, she added.

“With the opportunities, Boeing has in the pipeline, our participation and contribution to the growth trajectory in defence trade will be significant and important," she said.

"Boeing has a strong footprint in India, we’ve made significant investments and will continue to grow our footprint there. We have trusted relationships with our customers and partners and are committed to an enduring, long term view of India now and in the future," Laine said.

Given the fact that India is one of the fastest-growing economies in the world, the investments that Boeing has made in the Indian economy and the defence and aerospace infrastructure, the talent, workforce, the capability and innovation are just world-class and of the utmost significance and importance to Boeing, she said.

“Over the course of my 27-year long career at Boeing, I remember the days when we had no defence business at all with India. What a fundamental, transformational shift it’s been in the last 10-15 years just watching the US bilateral relationship grow. Boeing is very much part of that growth, with almost 75% of the defence business being with Boeing platforms," Laine said.

Boeing, she said, has invested significantly in India and is growing exponentially in capability, in the workforce, building up infrastructure and supply chain – its joint venture in Hyderabad producing Apache fuselages and engineering and R&D centre are examples – and focusing on its services execution through Boeing Defence India, she said.

“Today, we are sourcing more than $1 billion from India and working with over 250 plus suppliers that are delivering world-class work from India. Those investments will continue as we continue to expand our Make in India commitments," she asserted.

“We will also continue to deliver on our commitments towards our defence programmes. We recently delivered 22 Apache and 15 Chinook helicopters and look forward to providing sustainment and training services in support of these platforms as well as the other defence platforms in operation with the Indian Navy and Indian Air Force, including the P-8I and C-17," Laine said.

Responding to a question, Shockey said that Boeing’s pipeline for international sales is strong.

Altogether, as of the end of the fourth quarter, Boeing Defence, Space & Security’s backlog now stands at $61 billion with 32% of that coming from outside the United States.

“Looking to the future, over the next five years we are pursuing $170 billion across 41 countries in international defence and services opportunities. The robust pipeline is an indicator of continued prospects for growth and partnerships globally. And India is at the front and centre of that strategy," he said.

“Despite all of the significant headwinds the aerospace and defence industry and Boeing are facing, there are also significant opportunities for us to extend our backlog, shore up our production lines, and continue to meet the demand for proven, capable, innovative and affordable defence and space products and services for customers around the world, he said.

"And India is very much at the top of mind as a growth market for us where we continue to engage, partner and grow," Shockey said.