US aerospace major Boeing on Thursday said it has entered into a strategic collaboration with Air Works Group for the maintenance, repair and overhaul of its Poseidon 8I maritime reconnaissance aircraft and the VIP transport fleet which are being operated by the Indian Navy and the IAF respectively.
The BIRDS is a Boeing-led network and alliance of suppliers in India that envisions a competitive MRO (maintenance, repair and overhaul) ecosystem for engineering, maintenance, skilling, repair and sustainment services of defence and commercial aircraft.
Boeing said the hub aims to grow capabilities in India in the areas of heavy maintenance, component repairs, training and skilling of Indian Air Force and the Indian Navy personnel.
"This strategic agreement with Air Works positions us to generate significant value for our defence customers locally by delivering faster turnaround, exceptional operational capability and mission readiness on Boeing aircraft," Ahuja said.
"This is an important step in our commitment to the government of India's Atmanirbhar Bharat vision of developing India as an MRO hub," he said.
Boeing said an important aspect of the hub is training programmes to increase skilled manpower by developing sub-tier suppliers and medium, small and micro enterprises to build high quality MRO capabilities in India.
The Air Works Group is India's leading and highly diversified MRO company with a presence across 27 cities.
"The strategic collaboration with Boeing transforms our existing relationship into a new, enriched avatar," said D Anand Bhaskar, MD and CEO of Air Works.
"We are proud to be the first Indian company to partner Boeing as part of its BIRDS hub initiative and we remain excited, committed and privileged to have been chosen to work with them on such prestigious and critical projects," he said.
The Indian Navy already has a fleet of nine P-8I aircraft which are extensively deployed to keep track of movement of Chinese ships and submarines in the Indian Ocean Region.
The P-8I, based on the Boeing next-generation 737 commercial airplane, is a variant of the P-8A Poseidon used by the US Navy.
India was Boeing's first international customer for this aircraft. The first P-8I aircraft was inducted into the Indian Navy in 2013.
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