Indian Defence Minister Rajnath Singh, has been briefed about the abilities of the Boeing F/A-18 jets which form the frontline of US Navy’s carrier borne fighting arm.
Rajnath Singh, who is in the US to take part in the India-US 2+2 dialogue ( Dec 18-19) visited the Naval Air Station (NAS) Oceana and Naval Station Norfolk on Tuesday local time – early on Wednesday in India.
During the visit to NAS Oceana, Rajnath Singh inspected a Boeing Mobile Flight Simulator where he was briefed on operations of the simulator. He also visited a static display of the F/A-18 and saw flight demonstration of the F/A-18E flight demonstration.
The Boeing’s jet is the race for Indian Navy project to procure 57 such jets for Indian Aircraft carriers – INS Vikramaditya and the under construction INS Vikrant. Also the jet is race for the Indian Air force project to procure 114 jets.
The Indian Minister also visited the US Navy’s Nimitz-class aircraft carrier USS Dwight D. Eisenhower (CVN 69), which is presently located at Naval Station Norfolk –the largest US Naval base in the world. The US carrier uses the F/A-18 jets. He tweeted about the visit on board the carrier “I had the opportunity to be on board USS Dwight D. Eisenhower, the Nimitz-class aircraft carrier”
Indian Ministry of Defence described the visit in a statement that quoted Rajnath Singh as having said “visit reflected on the strong defence ties between India and the United States and hoped that the relations will further strengthen in the near future”.
India and the United States continue to build defence cooperation ties through military exercises, defence trade and official visits & exchanges, including this visit to the largest US naval base in the world, the Indian statement added.
Rajnath Singh was accompanied by Ambassador of India to the US Harsh Vardhan Shringla, Defence Secretary Dr Ajay Kumar, other senior officials of the Government of India and active-duty military officers.
Dr James Anderson, who is performing the duties of Deputy Under Secretary of Defense for Policy met the Indian delegation. Commander, Naval Air Force Atlantic Rear Adm. Roy Kelley; Deputy Assistant Secretary of the Navy for International Programs Rear Adm. Francis Morley; and Commanding Officer, NAS Oceana Capt. John Hewitt, were present.
Rajnath Singh, along with External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar, is in the US for the second 2+2 dialogue on Wednesday. They are being hosted by their US counterparts Defense Secretary Mark Esper and the Secretary of State Mike Pompeo.
Boeing’s make in India offer: Boeing, the manufacture of F/A-18E, has offered Block III of these fighter jets to India which have carrier compatibility, advanced capability, affordability meaning low acquisition cost plus low cost per flight hour.
Boeing has also completed extensive analysis and testing on F/A-18 Super Hornet’s compatibility with Indian carriers that use ski-jump for STOBAR operations. “Results show that the Super Hornet is capable of launching off a ski-jump carrier and could be operated from Indian carriers with a meaningful fuel and weapons load”, the Boeing India website says.
US carriers use the CATOBAR method for operations and the Boeing F/A-18 was designed for same.
India is looking for 57 aircraft for the Indian Navy with the intended use as day-and-night capable, all-weather, multi-role, deck-based combat aircraft which can be used for air defence, air-to-surface operations, buddy refuelling, reconnaissance, etc, from Indian navy aircraft carriers.
The F/A-18 could anchor of US-India naval aviation cooperation. The Indian Navy has 12 of the P-8I in its fleet and six more on order. The IAF uses the Apache AH-64E multi-role combat helicopters and the Chinook CH- 47F (I) heavy lift, tandem rotor helicopter besides the C-17 heavy lift plane.