LOCK­HEED SIGNS PACT WITH TATA TO MAKE F­16 PLANES IN IN­DIA

Hindustan Times ST (Jaipur) - - Front Page - Reuters letters@hindustantimes.com

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.

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