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India Needs 200 Fighter Jets; F-16 Still a Hot Contender : Lockheed Martin

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Lockheed Martin sees India as a potential market for its F-16 fighter jets. The estimated business that can be generated from India is approximately whopping $20 billion. Lockheed Martin is competing with Boeing’s F/A-18, Saab’s Gripen, Dassault Aviation’s Rafale, the Eurofighter Typhoon, and a Russian aircraft to supply the Indian air force with 114 combat planes in a deal estimated to be worth more than $15 billion.

The US firm has offered to shift its F-16 production line from the United States to India, potentially the biggest boost for Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s Make-in-India project.  This will create a defence industrial base and generate jobs for the thousands of youth entering the workforce each month.

Vivek Lall, the vice president of strategy and business development at Lockheed, said that “We see current demand outside of India of more than 200 aircraft. The value of those initial acquisition programs would likely exceed $20 billion”.

Indian military said that it wants 42 squadrons of jets, around 750 aircraft, to defend against a two-pronged attack from China and Pakistan. But with old Russian jets like the MiG-21, first used in the 1960s, retiring soon, it could end up with only 22 squadrons by 2032, officials have warned.

The plant in Texas is being used to produce the fifth generation F-35 Joint Strike Fighter that the United States Air Force is transitioning to.

The Vice President of strategy and business development at Lockheed says ” The U.S. has a certain amount engineering and strength that will continue as long as the product is there, that will continue even when production moves.”

Lockheed has picked Tata Advanced Systems as its Indian partner for the proposed F-16 plant. Last year it announced that their joint venture will produce wings for the aircraft in India, regardless of whether it wins the Indian military order.

More News at EurAsian Times

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