Lockheed Martin has offered to manufacture over 30 aircraft a year in its proposed Indian facility, one of its most ambitious fighter aircraft production ventures outside the United States.
Lockheed executives briefing defenseworld.net following an Indian suppliers’ meeting in Bangalore today said that they would look at starting the ‘Make-in-India’ manufacturing project with 12 aircraft a year going up to 36 at peak. Randall L Howard, F-16 business development head and Abhay Paranjape, director, business development-India said that they interacted with over 40 Indian entities over the last couple of days who showed interest in being part of the F-16 manufacturing project.
The suppliers’ meet is being followed-up by visits to the facilities of some of the Indian entities to asses their ability to be part of the F-16 supply chain, they said.
The partnership with India is being discussed between the Indian the US government and should the deal come through as a foreign military sales (FMS) agreement, then a certain number of aircraft would be sold to India under ‘flyaway condition’, and the rest would be manufactured in India.
As to possible location of the proposed plant, Howard said nothing was considered yet but it would have to be near an air base with access to a runway.
“The cost to India would reduce with every new block of aircraft manufactured and given the competitive labor costs here, you can look at a real competitively priced plane,” said Howard adding that the made-in-India F-16 would also be exported to markets in the Middle -East, Eastern Europe and Asia.
Indian companies participating in the venture would stand a chance of supplying parts to the global F-16 fleet which included over 4500 aircraft in 27 countries. The F-16 being offered to India was the latest iteration of the most successful fighter aircraft in the world.
Randall Howard did not divulge the investment his company would be willing to make in India except to say that a lot of financial analysis had been going on.
Referring to the export of critical technologies such as the AESA radar for the Indian F-16 project, Howard said that this would form part of any India-US discussion on relocating the F-16 manufacturing facility to India.
It may be recalled the US government had refused to part with four critical technologies for the South Korean K-FX aircraft, a derivative of the F-16 made by Korean Aerospace Industries in association with Lockheed Martin.
Media reports say that the Indian MoD wants a single engine fighter jet to meet the replacement requirements for a large number of MiG-21 planes and that the US and Swedish governments have been approached to provide details of the F-16 and the Saab Gripen NG to execute the project in India in association with one or several Indian strategic partners.