The US defence firm Lockheed Martin will partner Tata Advanced Systems to manufacture wings for the F-16 fighter jet in India. The announcement confirmed that Tata Advanced Systems in a joint venture with Lockheed Martin will setup a plant in Hyderabad and the work will commence from late 2020.
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The firm believed there would be “no impact to the US market” because of the production switch, a Lockheed Martin executive was quoted by Reuters. The deal was not dependent on India purchasing F-16 aircraft for its air force, added the unnamed executive.
In 2016, the US declared India a “major defence partner” and this week sees the inception of “2+2” dialogue on strategic affairs between the two countries. Talks are set to begin on Thursday when Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and Defense Secretary James Mattis will sit down for discussion with India’s External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj and Defense Minister Nirmala Sitharaman.
The US state department’s spokesperson for South Asia said that the talks indicated a “deepening strategic partnership between the United States and India. White added that two-sided military trade between the US and India is expected by the state department to reach USD 18 billion by 2019. As recently as 2008, the figure was essentially zero.
One sticking point for Thursday’s meeting is the likelihood that the US could force economic sanctions on India unless it reduces oil imports from Iran and cancels an order of anti-aircraft missiles from Russia.