AERO INDIA: Raytheon foresees rocketing US-India relationship

Singapore
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US defence contractor Raytheon has a major stake in the two American aircraft in the medium multi-role combat aircraft (MMRCA) competition, and is confident of US willingness to transfer technology.

"The big difference between this Aero India and previous ones is the support of the US government," says Walte Doran, president of Raytheon Asia.

He lists a number of top US government officials who have made the trek to Yehlanka air base this week. They include Commerce Secretary Garry Locke and top figures from the US military and government.

"There is an incredible centre of gravity around India following President Obama's visit last year," he says.

Raytheon has extensive equipment on both the Boeing F/A-18E/F Super Hornet and Lockheed Martin F-16IN Super Viper. If one of the US aircraft is selected, Raytheon will also be in a very strong position to sell air-to-air missiles such as the AIM-120 advanced medium range air-to-air missile (AMRAAM) and AIM-9X Sidewinder. It will also have the opportunity to sell ground attack weapons, such as the AGM-154-C Joint Standoff weapon (JSOW).

Crucially, the Super Hornet is equipped with Raytheon's APG-79 advanced active electronically scanned array radar. Only one other fighter, the F-16IN, has a deployed AESA radar. As the APG-79 is deployed with the US navy it is a proven system with long-term upgrade potential.

Unsurprisingly, Doran is hoping for a US win. "If either US plane is selected, it's a good situation for Raytheon. An American aircraft is the right choice for India, these are top of the line fighters. We are supportive of both bids."

The other four aircraft in the competition are from Europe: the Saab JAS 39 Gripen IN, Eurofighter Typhoon, RSK MiG 35, and Dassault Rafale.

Doran, a former admiral in the US navy, is also confident that the US government will release advanced technologies to India.

"We spent the last week in Delhi, and there are apprehensions that the US won't release the top end," says Doran. "The US-India relationship is still developing. As it gets more mature a deeper understanding will occur. I'm confident that the US is committed to technology transfer. It is working hard to ensure India gets the equipment for its needs."