In a dramatic somersault, US companies at Aero India have shown a strong inclination to work with Indian companies through joint ventures, partnerships and a willingness to transfer technologies.
A major order being looked at is for six E-2C Hawkeye 2000 airborne early warning aircraft to the Indian Navy.
Also, RQ-8A Fire Scout unmanned helicopters for reconnaissance are being offered by the US defence company Northrop Grumann for the Indian army and the Coast Guard, senior company officials told FE.
The E-2C Hawkeye 2000 is the only dedicated Naval carrier-borne fixed wing AWACS aircraft in the export market today. Northrop Grumann company officials will be making advance level presentations and discussions starting Monday onwards in New Delhi to Indian Navy procurement board and defence ministry officials.
The company officials have been invited by the the chief of Naval Staff Admiral Arun Prakash to clear concerns that the system may not be suitable for the Admiral Gorshkov aircraft carrier that India is in the process of acquiring from Russia, officials said. Senior officers from the Army and the Coast Guard have expressed interest in the Fire Scout Unmanned Helicopter and presentations will be made for them too in New Delhi, company officials said.
“We are convinced that we will have to do joint programmes with the Indian industry once the order comes through for any of our systems,’’ they added. And we are also open to outsourcing, they said. Adding, Indian Navy officials have made it clear that if Hawkeye deal is finalised that the sub-systems will have to sourced from India and the integration will be done jointly.
The Indian Navy had first sent a request for information to Northrop Grumman in early 2004, and the response came with details of the Hawkeye 2000 in October. However, while the Hawkeye needs a catapult jump on an aircraft carrier, the Admiral Gorshkov has a ski jump, and so does the INS Viraat and the Air Defence Ship currently being built indigenously. The RQ-8A Fire Scout system can provide reconnaissance, situational awareness and precision targeting support.