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SINGAPORE: Boeing defence eyes opportunities in India, Japan

Boeing continues to press forward with sales opportunities in the Asia-Pacific, both for combat and support aircraft.

Speaking at a media roundtable at the company's office, Gene Cunningham, vice president of Boeing Defense, Space & Security listed a number of opportunities in which the company is engaged.

He says a process in India to obtain Boeing's last available C-17 is under way. He expects a decision in the "near term", and that "obviously we would like it to be a positive response".

Flight Fleets Analyzer shows that New Delhi already operates 10 C-17s, the world's second-largest fleet after the US Air Force. The final C-17 is the last of eight aircraft produced as "white tails" by Boeing, and rolled out in November 2015. The other seven have already been taken up.

Cunningham indicated that Boeing is also very interested in New Delhi's recent request for information on a new air-to-air refuelling tanker.

"As additional tanker opportunities show up, whether they are in India or other locations, you will see us pressing forward with the KC-46," says Cunningham. "As that opportunity evolves you'll see us step forward and approach that procurement with the vim and vigour that we do on all of our campaigns."

Discussions with New Delhi about a future naval fighter requirement for 57 aircraft continue, a deal in which Boeing is promoting its F/A-18 E/F Super Hornet.

"Certainly there is a lot of technical evaluation that has to take place for that process to go forward," says Cunningham. "We expect this to be a competitive environment, and we will put our best offer forward should that competition evolve."

Boeing has also had discussions with Japan about possible upgrades to its fleet of 200 F-15J/DJs. Cunningham notes that the F-15 fighter has evolved considerably over the years, benefiting from new sensors, weapons and other technology.

These capabilities could greatly enhance Tokyo's F-15 fleet, and any formal programme would likely involve a large degree of local industrial participation. The average age of Tokyo's F-15 fleet is 29.1 years.

In addition, Boeing continues to explore opportunities elsewhere in Asia-Pacific. These include a long-mooted requirement for CH-47F Chinook transport helicopters in Indonesia, as well as regional requirements for attack helicopters such as its AH-6I and AH-64E Apache. It has held preliminary discussions with Vietnam about UAVs produced by its Insitu UAV unit.

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