Lock­heed Martin of­fers to build F-16, he­li­copters and UAVs in In­dia

The Pak Banker - - COMPANIES/BOSS -

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.

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