Keeping in tune with Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s Make-in-India campaign, American defense major Lockheed Martin, a major defense company from Texas offered to move its entire production line of its latest fighter jet Block 70 from the F16 family to India.
F16s are the largest-sold fighter jets in the world and the company has put a condition that India should purchase their jets and install them in their forces. “The offer we have given to the Indian government is unmatched and from our side unprecedented,” said Randall L Howard, F16 Business Development head, Lockheed Martin. He also added that the company wants to make these jets for India and export to the countries around the world from India.
Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar has said India will choose at least one more aircraft, besides the indigenous Tejas, for the IAF through the ‘Make in India’ route.
Lockheed Martin has sold 4,588 F16s in the world until now and it faces competition from its American rival Boeing (F/A-18E), Dassault Aviation of France (Rafale), Swedish plane Gripen by Saab and the Eurofighter.
Howard said the company is having multiple discussions with the government here besides the industry and “they have not been told to go away”, indicating a positive outcome.
He added Lockheed believes the production in India will also bring down the cost of the aircraft which in turn will increase its global demand.
Howard did not reply to questions on the kind of investment the company plans to make in the country and whether it would be looking at a 100 per cent FDI, saying it was too early to discuss this.
He said the aim of the company right now was to give maximum data to the government and the IAF so they can be helped in making an informed decision.
The company termed India as the “new epicenter of the world’s most extensive, industrial defence network”.
Company sources said besides catering to India’s demand, they are also looking at a potential export order of another 100 aircraft.
With the Andhra Pradesh’s Aerospace and Defence policy, we hope the firm decides to Make in Andhra…