LOCKHEED SIGNS PACT WITH TATA TO MAKE F16 PLANES IN INDIA
Lockheed Martin signed an agreement with India’s Tata Advanced Systems on Monday to produce F-16 fighter planes in India, pressing ahead with a plan to shift its Fort Worth, Texas plant to win billions of dollars worth of order from the Indian military.
India’s air force needs hundreds of aircraft to replace its Soviet-era fleet, but Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s government has said foreign suppliers would have to make the planes in India with a local partner to help build a domestic industrial base and cut outright imports.
But Modi’s Make-in-India drive runs the risk of conflicting with US President Donald Trump’s America First campaign under which he has been pressing for companies to invest in the US and create jobs instead of setting up factories abroad.
In announcing their agreement at the Paris Airshow, Lockheed and Tata said moving the production base to India would still retain jobs in the United States.
“F-16 production in India supports thousands of Lockheed Martin and F-16 supplier jobs in the U.S., creates new manufacturing jobs in India, and positions Indian industry at the center of the most extensive fighter aircraft supply ecosystem in the world,” a joint statement by the firms said.
Sweden’s Saab is the other contender to supply the Indian Air Force, offering to make its Gripen fighter in India. It has not yet announced a local partner for the plane which it has pitched as a modern alternative to the F-16s.