Defenseworld.net interviewed Dr. Vivek Lall, Vice President, Boeing Defense, Space and Security, India on Boeing’s plans for India in the defense and security sphere.
DW : What is the status of the P8i offsets program?
Dr. Vivek Lall: Boeing has started the process of implementing $600 million in offsets programs against India’s purchase of the P8i maritime surveillance aircraft. The offsets program largely involves three government owned companies, Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL), Bharat Electronics Limited (BEL), Electronics Corp. of India Limited (ECIL) and one private firm Avantel. Of this, the contract with HAL is for gun bay doors, with BEL for data links, some of which have been delivered. There are some other companies too but I cannot reveal about them at this stage. Some of HAL manufactured gun bay doors have already been installed on F/A 18 fighters in the U.S. Similarly BEL manufactured data links will go into the P8I under manufacture in the U.S.
DW : Recently India’s DRDO and ISRO were taken off the U.S. entities list. Do you see an opportunity to do business with them.
Dr. Vivek Lall: We see them as possible partners and are examining if the work we do with them qualifies for offsets credit. As you know direct offsets can only be with a defence public sector undertaking or a private sector company. We are happy with how the offsets policy has shaped up and expect more changes in it going forward. One of the changes in the area of what qualifies as an offsets credit.
DW : What new products or areas are you looking at in India?
Dr. Vivek Lall: The homeland defence and security is an area we are very much interest in. As you know we have the ScanEagle UAV and are likely to talk about it at the Aero India show in Bangalore early next year. The ScanEagle could have a requirement in India. Initial discussions have started in the homeland defense sector and we are trying to develop a better understanding the Indian requirements in this area.
DW : In terms of the C-17 contract what is the current position and when can we expect the first delivery.
Dr. Vivek Lall: BBSince this is a government-to-government FMS deal, I cannot talk about it much. We have finished trails of the C17 in India and await the conclusion of the deal. We will be displaying the C17 at the Aero India show along with some of the other products such as the F/A 18 fighter which is bidding for the Indian MMRCA contract. We will have a large contingent of executives at Aero India 2011 in view of the various programs we are focusing on India such as aircraft, helicopters, missiles among others.
DW : On the business side, are there any developments you would like to talk about.
Dr. Vivek Lall: We have recently acquired a company called Narus which is into Cyber Security. The company has a large development center in Bangalore and will give us access to the cyber security market of which we believe there is a big future.
DW : What are your long term plans in India.
Dr. Vivek Lall: We want to have a pan-India footprint over the entire aerospace and defence spectrum from product sales to manufacturing to R and D. We have an agreement with HAL in aero structures which is expected to grow in the future. Similarly we have set up Analysis and Experimentation Centre in partnership with BEL in Bangalore and have started projects in the aerospace education sphere with a few educational institutions.
DW : There have been reports that Boeing will not be responding to an Indian RFP for air to air tankers.
Dr. Vivek Lall: We have received the RFP. But we have not yet made a decision on bidding as we are evaluating what is in the RFP. We are also cognizant of the US competition in this area and how that turns out. There is still time to respond to the Indian RFP.