Lockheed Martin offers to build F-16, helicopters and UAVs in India
MUMBAI: US defence contractor Lockheed Martin Corp. has offered to build its flagship F-16 fighter jets, C130J Super Hercules military transport planes and helicopters in India. The American company is keen to make F-16V, the advanced fourth generation fighter jet in India, provided positive results emerge out of India-US talks next month, Lockheed Martin executives said. India and the US are set to hold government-to-government discussions in mid April.
"We are bullish about the prospects," said Randy Howard, director F-16, business development at Lockheed Martin. F-16s are made in multiple countries and the company would not hesitate to set up the final assembly line of these fighter jets in India, Howard said.
Abhay Paranjpe, director business development at Lockheed Martin Aeronautics Co., said the quality of talent, maintaining time schedule and low cost are the key driving factors for the company to consider moving the manufacturing to India. Paranjpe said Lockheed Martin is aiming at making India a manufacturing base for its fighter jets, helicopters and unmanned aerial vehicles under the Make In India programme. India is now importing 60% of its defence requirements while local production is at the heart of Prime Minister Narendra Modi's Make In India programme.
Several manufacturers, including Airbus Group, Boeing Co. and Saab AB, are looking to set up manufacturing plants in India if they secure orders. Paranjpe said the US and Indian governments are negotiating the deal. India needs to replace many of Indian Air Force's 650 planes-a third of which are more than 40 years old. Paranjpe said the company has got orders for six additional C-130Js Super Hercules aircraft and it will be delivered in 2017.