Lockheed offers to set up F-16 unit, make Javelin missiles in India
12 April 2018
Keen on securing the $15-billion Indian Air Force deal for 110 fighter jets, US defence major Lockheed Martin has expressed readiness to shift its F-16 fighter aircraft manufacturing facility to India and the transfer the technology for its third generation anti-armour guided missile system Javelin to India for its future manufacture.
The American aerospace and defence major said it has permission from the US government to shift the F-16 facility and for the guided missile technology transfer since the US Air Force is phasing out its F-16s.
An IANS report quoting Lockheed officials at the DefExpo 18 said the US company is geared up for the world's biggest fighter jet order and that it would also offer to transfer technology to local partners for sophisticated parts as well.
"We are offering a deal that is completely compatible with 'Make in India' - offering a stand-up production line in India," the report quoted Randall L Howard, head of Lockheed Martin Aeronautic’s International Business Development for aircraft.
The single-engine supersonic multirole fighter aircraft that has seen action in the Afghanistan and Iraq wars, is currently being built around the world, and setting up facilities in India would not impact jobs in the US, he added.
The Lockheed official claimed that more than 4,000 F-16s have been sold to countries across the world. The US Air Force is not interested in buying these aircraft, forcing the company to look for other markets.
"We are offering to shift the manufacturing base and produce all of our F-16s in India; not just for India, but for the whole world — across South East Asia, across South America, across Middle East."
Howard said the company had "full support of the US government" for shifting the F-16 production line.
"So, whenever we have a situation, we will be able to build the entire aircraft in India. But we will continue to have parts that come from the US. That will continue to create jobs in the US. This absolutely supports American jobs," he said.
In fact, he said, Lockheed was also looking at the possibility of setting up the entire ecosystem, including one with a runway, to produce the fighters in flyaway condition.
The report quoted another Lockheed official, Haley Donoho, head of the business development of shoulder-fired anti-armour Javelin missile, said a possible joint venture for the system "is in good standing with the Indian government".
"Should the Indian government be interested in the third generation missile system, we are ready to sell Javelin under a foreign military sale contract which is the most transparent acquisition contract you can find. You can trace at every step where the money is going."
He said Lockheed has got the US government's nod to transfer its "high-degree" technology to its partners in India for the development of the 22kg, portable missile system that comes with a combination of "fire and forget" and "man in the loop" capability, with a range of up to four km.
The missile, which automatically guides itself to the target after launch, has been used by US forces in the cold mountains of Afghanistan and in the hot deserts of Iraq.
With its arched top-attack profile, Javelin climbs above its target for improved visibility and then strikes where the armour is weakest, he said.