Boeing CEO to visit India amid the sour relations between the two nations.

As per the sources and reports, David L Calhoun, CEO & President of Boeing is likely to visit India very soon. Calhoun will be meeting the top officials from India's Ministry of Defence.
Boeing CEO to visit India amid the sour relations between the two nations.
David L Calhoun, CEO & President of The Boeing Company. (Boeing Site)

India has been in the search for a carrier-based fighter jet compatible with the newly built and soon to be commissioned indigenous aircraft carrier INS Vikrant. The designed and made in India aircraft carrier went into sea trials last year and is now expected to be commissioned into the Indian navy around August this year.

Indian navy severely lacks the fighter jet numbers to fully equip both of its carriers, i.e. INS Vikramaditya and the new INS Vikrant. To fill this critical gap, the Indian navy has been on a search for a carrier-based fighter jet that is compatible with both of its carriers. In order to win the contract for supplying India with advanced jets, defence majors from across the globe have been in a race for quite some time. But, the Boeings F/A-18 Super Hornet and the Dassault Aviation's Rafale-M are considered to be the front runners in this competition. There stands a good chance that the Indian navy might go with one of these two.

Boeing F/A-18 Super Hornet. (Unsplash)
Boeing F/A-18 Super Hornet. (Unsplash)

Boeing's F/A-18 jets in for trials & testing in India:

According to the reports, the US defence major Boeing is preparing to send two of its F/A-18E/F Super Hornet jets for test & trials at the Indian Navy's Goa testing facility. The jets will go through several tests including the most important - Ski-Jump takeoff trials. The ski-jump takeoff test mimics the runway and takeoff ramp of an aircraft carrier. That's how the compatibility & capability of a jet is checked before taking it for real carrier testing.

The defence giant has been pitching its F/A-18 jets to the Indian Navy for quite some time now. Boeing claims that the F/A-18s can easily take off from any ski-jump ramp based carrier. According to the company, the jets have already completed the internal ski-jump tests in 2020 and there have been extensive simulated studies which prove the capability of the jet. The company claims that the jets will prove their true mettle when they reach India for operational & practical demonstrations.

Indian Navy's P-8i. (Wikipedia)
Indian Navy's P-8i. (Wikipedia)

Boeing's CEO India Visit:

As per the sources and reports, David L Calhoun, CEO & President of Boeing is likely to visit India very soon. Calhoun will be meeting the top officials from India's Ministry of Defence. There is a buzz in the South Block that the CEO is coming to India to pitch the F/A-18 jets and discuss several defence deals & partnerships including the delivery, further orders, and MRO facility of P-8i in India.

It seems that the visit of the Boeing CEO is purposely designed to coincide with the upcoming trials of F/A-18s in the Indian Navy's Goa facility. Also, it might be possible that the trials of F/A-18 jets are performed in the presence of the Boeing CEO. That would be another good opportunity for the Boeing CEO and other company officials to push the jet deal in Boeing's favour.

The Indo-US Relations:

The visit of the Boeing CEO and the F/A-18 India trial comes at a time when India - US relations are going through a phase of disagreements about the new world order, rules-based order and the ongoing conflicts around the world.

Recently, the Indo-US relation has seen some harsh exchanges of dialogues and comments between the two countries on the matters of human rights violations, religious freedom, press freedom etc. The sourest recent disagreement between New Delhi and Washington D.C was on the matters of geopolitical alignment in the Ukraine - Russia conflict.

Several US officials have preached and warned India about its indirect support and its relations with Russia. The US has time and again warned India with threats of sanctions due to New Delhi's decision to move forward with the S400 deal with Russia. However, India too has retaliated through words. India's External Affairs Minister, Dr S. Jaishankar has shown a tough stance by expressing his concerns about the human rights violations in the US and the hypocrisy of the US on the matters of rules-based order.

Though Boeing stands a good chance of winning the race for the Indian Navy fighter jet deal, the sour relations and disagreements between the two countries will prove to be a critical barrier in the fast-growing defence ties between the world's oldest democracy and the world's largest democracy.

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