Lockheed Martin unveils F-21 multi-role fighter jet for `Make-in-India'
20 February 2019
US defence major Lockheed Martin today unveiled the F-21, a multi-role fighter jet, an upgraded version of its F16 fighter jets, which it claimed will be produced in India with support from Tata Advanced Systems.
The offer comes as a sequel to India’s multi-billion dollar programme to acquire 114 beyond-fourth generation fighter aircraft for the Indian Air Force. Lokheed Martin, which is vying with other global majors, including France’s Dassault, Sweden’s Swaab, and Russian defence majors, had earlier offered its F16s, which did not find favour with the IAF.
Lokheed’s proposal to manufacture the F16s in India did not find favour as the aircraft is already being operated by the Pakistan Air Force and is being phased out by the US Air Force.
The company said the new plane highlights its commitment to delivering an advanced, scalable fighter aircraft to the IAF, while also providing industrial opportunities locally.
The new plane will be specifically configured for the Indian Air Force (IAF), a Make in India opportunity that no other firm had offered earlier, it added.
Announcing this at the Aero India show in Bengaluru, the firm said it would partner with Tata Advanced Systems to produce the F-21 in India.
Lockheed, which is among the seven firms that have responded to IAF's RFI for fighter planes, said the F-21 will be completely different from the F16 and would be scalable, while also providing industrial opportunities locally.
The US firm had offered the F-16 Block 70 as part of the MMRCA (medium multi-role combat aircraft) deal which was bagged by Dassault's Rafale.
Lockheed said that the Make in India opportunity the F-21 offers combines the strength of the world's largest defence contractor with India's premier industrial house to deliver a 'win-win' situation for India and the US.
Lockheed Martin is a global security and aerospace company that employs approximately 1.05 lakh people worldwide.