Tata Advanced Systems to make wings for Lockheed F-16s in India
05 September 2018
Lockheed Martin, which is bidding for the defence ministry’s $20 billion contract for 114 fighter jets with its vintage F16s, proposes to build wings for the combat aircraft at its local partner Tata Advanced Systems.’
While the contract is for local manufacture of the fighter planes, with parts coming from original equipment manufacturers and partly from local sources, under the Modi government’s `Make in India’ programme, Lockheed said production of the F-16 wings would not be contingent upon the company winning the order for the planes.
Reports quoting Vivek Lall, vice president of strategy and business development at Lockheed, said the proposed Indian production of the F-16 wings is to meet its local production requirements
“Producing F-16 wings in India will strengthen Lockheed Martin’s strategic partnership with Tata and support Make in India,” the company said in a statement.
Modi has been pushing for local manufacturing that will provide jobs and also end the military’s dependence on imports.
Lockheed’s announcement came just days ahead of top level talks between the United States and India aimed at expanding defence ties.
US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and Defence Secretary Jim Mattis will meet with Indian Foreign Minister Sushma Swaraj and defence minister Nirmala Sitharaman.
Besides Lockheed, another US defence major Boeing has pitched its F/A-18 Super Hornet for the Indian contract. Others include Sweden’s Saab with its Gripen fighter, France’s Dassault Systems SE with its Rafale, the Eurofighter Typhoon and Russian aircraft.
Meanwhile, Lockheed had offered to make India its sole F-16 production facility that would supply the Indian military as well as other countries. “If India buys the F-16 then it becomes the centre of manufacturing for the global market,” Lall said.
Lall said the company planned to begin production of the F-16 wings at Tat’s facility in Hyderabad from 2020, adding that these were being produced at a facility in Israel and would not impact any jobs in the United States.
The Israeli centre will continue to be involved in other production, he said. “All F-16 wings globally are to be built in the Hyderabad facility,” he said.