Lockheed, for a worthwhile prospective export market for its F-16 fighter aircraft and in a bid to win a large Indian military order, has offered to set up an assembly line in India, a top executive told Reuters.
In that move, U.S. defense firm is not only seeing a potential export market of more than $20 billion but is also trying to win an Indian order estimated to be of worth $15 billion.
Other companies offering their planes for Indian air force’s requirement of 114 fighter planes includes Saab offering Gripen, Boeing with F/A-18, the Eurofighter Typhoon, Dassault Aviation bringing Rafale and a Russian aircraft. To that tough competition, Lockheed is offering shifting of whole assembly line along with the planes.
The shifting of assembly line from the United States to India, creating a defense industrial base and generating jobs for youth entering the workforce of the country each month, will also be a biggest boost for Indian Prime Minister’s Make-in-India project.
Meeting the requirements for the Indian military as well as overseas markets, the facility in India will be made as a sole global production center for the F-16 by Lockheed, Vivek Lall, the vice president of strategy and business development at Lockheed, told Reuters. Currently the firm is expecting a demand of more than 200 aircrafts from markets other than India and amount of those initial purchases would likely be exceeding an amount of $20 billion, he added.
The aircraft being offered to India are F-16 Block 70, which had also been picked by Slovakia and Bahrain; moreover, discussions with 10 other countries including Bulgaria are in progress. It is like new beginning of the F-16, Lall said.
For its proposed F-16 plant, Lockheed, regardless of the outcome of the Indian military order, will be partnering with Tata Advanced System in India.