Lockheed Martin And Tata Will Make F-16 Fighter Jets In India

Lockheed and Tata will produce the F-16 Block 70, the newest F-16, in India.

The Lockheed Martin F-16V (Source: Lockheed Martin’s website)
The Lockheed Martin F-16V (Source: Lockheed Martin’s website)

In a major boost for the government’s Make in India scheme, Lockheed Martin and Tata Advanced Systems Ltd. signed a pact to manufacture F-16 fighter jets in India, making it only the second fighter jet to be produced in the country.

The companies signed an agreement to produce the F-16 Block 70, the newest F-16, in India, according to a joint media statement by both companies. The only other jet to be manufactured in India is Hindustan Aeronatics Ltd.'s Tejas, a light combat aircraft which was developed to replace the ageing Russian MiG-21 fleet.

The deal comes ahead of Modi’s visit to the U.S. on June 25-26 to meet President Donald Trump, who in his campaign rhetoric had vowed to put “American workers first”. Under the deal, Lockheed will shift its manufacturing plant in Fort Worth, Texas to India but the defence major said it would not come at the cost of American jobs.

The pact will support "thousands" of supplier jobs in the U.S. and create new manufacturing jobs in India, the joint statement said.

It’s a major push for Prime Minister Narendra Modi's Make In India campaign after the government allowed foreign direct investment in the defence sector. Then Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar said in January that the Centre had narrowed down two jet fighter options for indigenous manufacturing – Lockheed's F-16 and the Gripen jet by Sweden's Saab.

The F-16 Block 70 is "ideally suited" to meet the Indian Air Force's single-engine fighter needs, the joint statement said. The F-16 is one of the most popular combat aircraft with around 3,200 operational aircrafts flown by 26 countries.

This is not the first time that Tata Advanced Systems has inked a pact with Lockheed Martin. Tata makes airframe structures for Lockheeds' C-130 Hercules and C-130J Super Hercules in Hyderabad as part of a joint venture with the U.S-based aircraft maker.

“This agreement builds on the already established joint venture between Lockheed Martin and Tata and underscores the relationship and commitment between the two companies,” N Chandrasekaran, chairman of Tata Sons said in the statement.

Lockheed said it chose to partner with Tata Advanced Systems based on their "proven performance" in manufacturing airframe components for the C-130J airlifter and the cabins of S-92 helicopter that it makes for Sikorsky Aircraft Corporation.


Azman Usmani is a senior correspondent at BQ Prime. He ...more
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