Bangalore: Lockheed Martin is offering India the P-3C Orion maritime surveillance aircraft, C-130J tactical transport plane, MH-60R multi-role helicopter and Patriot PAC-3 air and missile defense systems, in addition to the famous F-16 multi-role fighter.
Lockheed can give India the Block 50/52 (also known as the F-16 CD) and also the most advanced Block 60 (known as F-16 EF) planes, depending on the country's request for proposal (RFP), the company's VP of business development for India Orville Prims told journalists at a press conference here today.
Prims said that Lockheed is experienced in providing F-16s configured to meet particular country requirements, and was quite comfortable about it being produced under license in India. ''Assembly lines producing the F-16 have been successfully established in five countries including the US, and more than 20 countries participate in co-production of components for the aircraft,'' he said.
Apart from the fact that it is the 'best in the world', integrating the F-16 into the Indian Air Force offered the opportunity to establish a long-term relationship with the US Air Force, he pointed out. He also said that the F-16 is the best bridge to futuristic fifth generation fighter planes like the F-35, which is at a fairly advanced stage of development, he said.
An F-16 cockpit simulator that Lockheed had set up at its pavilion was in great demand, especially from Indian Air Force personnel, he disclosed.
Lockheed believes that its P-3C Orion is a proven, low-risk solution for the Indian Navy's Long Range Maritime Reconnaissance and Anti-Submarine Warfare (LRMRASW) programme, since it meets all parameters of Indian requirements. Michael Meyer, business development director for maritime surveillance said that the P-3C was operated by 16 countries, and will remain a frontline aircraft in this class for the next 20 years.
Asked about the status of the company's bid, he said that the RFP had been issued last year, on the basis of which the company had submitted a proposal, which was currently under evaluation. He said that the P-3C, which can stay aloft for 14 hours without refueling, was rated for 15,000 flying hours over a life of 20 to 25 years.
The C-130J Super Hercules is the most versatile airlifter in the world, capable of conducting precision operations day or night in all kinds of weather conditions. It can operate in all kinds of climatic conditions, from extreme heat to very high altitudes, on unprepared strips for short take-off and landing, Edward Arner, manager for C-130J development in India, said.
The latest J variant, which is being offered to India, is in operational service with the US, UK, Italy, Australia and Denmark. Apart from military operations, it can be used for special operations and for humanitarian relief missions as was seen after the Tsunami in SE Asia.
MH-60R multi-mission helicopter
India will be the first country outside the US to be offered this multi-mission helicopter, which can be adapted both for anti-submarine warfare as well as for anti-surface warfare, Cathy Hrustich, MH-60R business development manager said.
She said that the helicopter was part of the US Navy's $700 million mission systems project, and achieved initial operational capability in December 2005. The US Navy approved full-rate production of 254 copters in March 2006. India has an opportunity to join the programme at the beginning of its operational life cycle, she said. It will be supported in the US Navy fleet through 2040.
The MH-60R is already under consideration by the Indian Navy. An RFP for helicopters was issued in December 2005, and Lockheed submitted its proposal in April 2006. It is presently under evaluation, she said in reply to a question.
Advanced Patriot PAC-3 missiles
also see : Lockheed
keen to partner with Indian firms
The 'hit-to-kill' PAC-3 missile is the world's most advanced terminal air defence weapon. It can bring down tactical ballistic missiles, cruise missiles as well as aircraft. At present, Lockheed is producing this missile only for the US Army, Lockheed's VP of international air and missile defence strategic initiatives Dennis Cavin said. He claimed that it was a quantum leap ahead of any other air defence missile in the world.
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