Tata-Boeing Aerospace expects to supply Apache chopper fuselage by year-end

Over 2,300 Boeing-made Apache helicopters are operated by customers around the world since the aircraft entered production some decades back.

Tata Boeing Aerospace (TBAL) expects to begin the commercial supply of fuselages for the AH- 64 Apache combat helicopters from its newly-opened facility in Hyderabad by the end of the year.

The city-headquartered Tata Boeing Aerospace is a joint venture between American plane-maker Boeing Corporation and the Tata Group firm Tata Advanced Systems (TASL).

The facility, which will serve Boeing globally, was inaugurated today here and will build the fuselage for the AH-64 Apache helicopters for the global market.

Spread over 14,000-square metres and employing 350 highly skilled workers, the facility will be the sole manufacturing facility of fuselage for Boeing’s AH-64 Apache helicopters for global markets, with clients including the U.S. Army, a joint press release from Tata and Boeing said.

However, the companies did not reveal how much money they invested into the facility.

The facility will also produce secondary structures and vertical spar boxes for this multi-role combat chopper.

“The delivery of the first fuselage is expected in 2018,” the companies said without offering a time-line.

Defence minister Nirmala Sitharaman and Telangana minister for industries and information techonology K.T. Rama Rao inaugurated the facility.

“I congratulate Tata and Boeing for making this substantial investment in the defence space,” said Ms.Sitharaman.

“After May 2014, there has been a great push to revive manufacturing,” she added.

TBAL, Boeing’s first equity joint venture in the country, is the result of a 2015 partnership agreement with TASL. The facility was constructed according to schedule after work commenced in 2016.

In addition, Boeing and TASL have worked closely to develop a pool of highly skilled aerospace talent through skill development initiatives.

Pratyush Kumar, president, Boeing India, said that TBAL is just the beginning of Boeing’s journey in partnering with Indian firms.

“We see this as a major step towards future opportunities to pursue the co-development of integrated systems in aerospace and defence,” he added.

Over 2,300 Boeing-made Apache helicopters are operated by customers around the world since the aircraft entered production some decades back.

The Boeing-made Apache helicopter has been selected by the armed forces of 16 countries, including India. The defence ministry had finalised an order with Boeing for 22 AH-64E Apache helicopters in September 2015, deliveries for which are scheduled from 2019.

Leanne Caret, president and chief executive, Boeing’s defence, space and security vertical, said the aircraft maker quadrupled its sourcing from India to over $1 billion during the past two years.

“We have invested tremendously here because the future is extremely bright here. We have quadrupled our sourcing from India in the past two years to more than $1 billion,” she said but did not say how much they have invested in India.

American ambassador to India Kenneth Juster and Ratan Tata, chairman of Tata Trusts – that owns over 66% in Tata Sons – were also present on the occasion.