US defence major Raytheon has initiated discussions with Ordnance Factory Board on licensed production of the Paveway precision guided bombs that it earlier sold to the Indian Air Force, a top company official said on Wednesday.
The Paveway system, which uses laser guidance and is an all-weather precision weapon, was sold to the IAF in the 1990s.
Raytheon recently carried out tests in India to ensure that the existing systems still had shelf life for use with the Jaguar combat jets.
As part of its efforts to focus on building long-term relationships with Indian private and state-run defence firms, Raytheon has now offered the licensed production of the Paveway system to the OFB, said Ben Ford, director of Raytheon's strike weapons division.
"We have had discussions with the OFB for licensed production of the Paveway system as we want to establish long-term relations with India instead of just selling equipment," Ford told PTI at the Paris Air Show.
This is the first time that a US firm like Raytheon has offered to provide technology for the licensed production of a precision guided weapon system though firms from other countries have offered expertise to build similar systems.
The Paveway systems sold to India by Raytheon before the US imposed sanctions in the wake of New Delhi's 1998 nuclear tests had a shelf life of 10 years.
After tests on similar systems in the US revealed that their shelf life was much longer, Raytheon sent its experts to India to work with the IAF to check the status of the Paveway equipment, he said.
"Our tests showed the shelf life could be longer if the systems were stored and maintained properly. Our experts worked with the IAF last year and established that the system had a shelf life of 20 years," said Ford.
Raytehon's strike weapons division, which makes the Paveway and missiles like HARM, Maverick and Joint Standoff Weapon, is also open to offering these systems for the IAF's programme to acquire 126 modern combat jets.
"These would be ideal candidates for the multi-role combat aircraft programme," said Ford.