US aviation major Lockheed Martin, in the race to sell 126 F-16 jets to the air force, is in talks with Indian firms like HAL and the Tata group for the outsourcing of aircraft components, a company official said on Tuesday.
The firm's Advanced Development Programmes divisions, which works on research in cutting edge areas like stealth and surveillance technologies, is also keen on forging ties with Indian information technology and research firms, said Lockheed's director of communications Joseph Stout.
"We have had preliminary talks with firms like Hindustan Aeronautics Limited, Tata and Larsen and Toubro and our teams have surveyed their capabilities. We are very encouraged by their capabilities," Stout said in New Delhi.
As part of efforts to establish a presence in India, Lockheed was eyeing the prospect of outsourcing components for the F-16 fighter jets and other aircraft, including the hugely successful C-130 Hercules transport aircraft, to Indian firms.
If Lockheed bags the deal to supply 126 jets to the Indian Air Force, the request for proposals for which are likely to be issued soon, a "majority" of the jets will be built by state-owned HAL following the transfer of technology, Stout said.
"Frank Cappuccio, the executive vice-president of Advanced Development Programs or Skunk Works which is working on network-centric warfare systems and unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs), will visit India this year to scout avenues for cooperation," he said.
"Though we have no agreements in place, it is important for Lockheed Martin to establish a presence in India," he said.