United State’s (US) fighter jet maker Lockheed Martin said that it is ready to manufacture their F-16 Aircraft in India and supports the on-going talks between the two countries.
Lockheed Martin is a global security, aerospace, and information technology company. It has a series of contracts and joint ventures within India, and have over 1,000 employees under them. Back in 2011, they supplied six C130J Super Hercules planes to India and are expected to deliver six more helicopters by 2017.
Chief executive of Lockheed Martin India Private Ltd., Phil Shaw, said:
“We are ready to manufacture F-16 in India and support the Make in India initiative.”
However, US recent decision to provide Pakistan with eight F-16 fighter jets was not welcomed by India. India at that time had expressed their disappointment over the move
and many had even questioned Indo-US relations.
Despite this huge setback, Shaw made it clear Lockheed Martin is very much interested in manufacturing the fighter jets in India but he did not reveal any more information about the same.
He added that the group supports the ongoing government-to-government talks.
If all goes well, then India will have Lockheed Martin’s first manufacturing facility which is expected to be one of the largest projects under the ‘Make in India’ initiative.
At present Lockheed Martin manufactures only one jet per month from its plant in the US.
Explaining the Lockheed Martin decision, industry experts told PTI:
“Lockheed Martin’s wish to manufacture F-16 is based on the strong demand from the Indian armed forces and would want to lower the cost of the planes for exports. They want to exploit the engineering skill and low cost capabilities in India.”
Another expert added that both the US government and Lockheed Martin see the advantage of placing a manufacturing base in India and make F-16 affordable for emerging markets.
According to a source, “If the government reach an agreement this year or 2017, Lockheed Martin could roll out the first made in India jet in 2019-2020.”