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Lockheed Martin to produce wings of F-16 fighter jets in India

Producing F-16 wings in India will strengthen Lockheed Martin’s strategic partnership with Tata Advanced Systems Limited and support the ‘Make in India’ initiative of the government, officials of the company said.

india Updated: Sep 04, 2018 17:17 IST
Lockheed Martin,F-16 fighter jet,Make in India
A Lockheed Martin F-16 fighter aircraft from the US Air Force performing an aerial display over the skies of Yelahanka Air Force Station on the inaugural day of the 11th edition of Aero India in Bangalore on February 14, 2017.(AFP File Photo)

The wings of Lockheed Martin’s F-16 fighter jets will be produced in India, the American security and aerospace giant announced on Tuesday, in a major boost to the ‘Make in India’ initiative.

Maryland-based Lockheed Martin has entered into an agreement with Tata Advanced Systems Limited (TASL) for the production of the wings.

Lockheed officials insisted that the planned F-16 wing production to India is not contingent on India selecting the F-16 for the Indian Air Force. Lockheed has offered to move its entire F-16 manufacturing base to India. India is yet to make a decision on it.

Producing F-16 wings in India will strengthen Lockheed Martin’s strategic partnership with Tata Advanced Systems Limited and support the ‘Make in India’ initiative of the government, officials of the company said.

“Building F-16 wings in India is a natural next step that builds on our successful partnerships with Tata on the C-130J [Super Hercules airlifter] and S-92 [helicopter],” said Vivek Lall, Vice President of Strategy and Business Development for Lockheed Martin Aeronautics.

“This is a strategic business decision that reflects the value of our partnerships with India and the confidence we have in Tata to perform advanced defence manufacturing work and deliver world-class products,” Lall said.

Lockheed Martin’s broader proposed F-16 partnership with India — to produce F-16s exclusively in India for its Air Force and export customers — stands firm, the company said.

Lockheed recently submitted a comprehensive, fully compliant 600-plus page Request for Information (RFI) response to the Indian Air Force.

Last year, Lockheed Martin and TASL announced their intent to join hands to produce the F-16 Block 70 in India if the aircraft is selected by the Indian Air Force.

The F-16 Block 70 features advanced avionics, a proven Active Electronically Scanned Array (AESA) radar, a modernised cockpit, advanced weapons, conformal fuel tanks, an automatic ground collision avoidance system, an advanced engine and an industry-leading extended structural service life of 12,000 hours.

To date, 4,604 F-16s have been procured by 28 customers around the world. Approximately 3,000 operational F-16s are flying today with 25 leading air forces, including the US Air Force.

First Published: Sep 04, 2018 17:14 IST