Lockheed Martin's offer of moving its F-16 manufacturing facility to India may be in doubt following a large order from Bahrain for the F-16's latest version, the "V" together with issues over transferring critical technology to Indian companies.
When Lockheed Martin announced the F-16V a couple of years ago, it came at a time when the Indian government was pushing for the replacement of its MiG-21 fleet with a latest generation single-engine aircraft to be made in India for use by the Indian Air Force (IAF) besides for export. The US-based company was enthusiastic about the project it had no customer for the F-16V then.
However, the coming of the Trump administration with its mantra of keeping American jobs home changed this perspective. A Lockheed Martin executive had announced at the last IDEX show in Abu Dhabi that the next F-16s would be built in the USA.
Last week, the Government of Bahrain requested a possible sale of 19 F-16V aircraft along with upgrading its existing 20 F-16s to the V configuration together worth US$3.8 billion. The key systems and equipment that go into the F-16V include Vulcan 20mm Gun Systems, F-110-GE-129 Engines, APG-83 Active Electronically Scanned Array Radars, 22 Modular Mission Computers, Embedded Global Navigation Systems, Improved Programmable Display Generators and 38 LAU-129 Launchers.
The state department notice makes it clear that work on the Bahrain contract would be executed at Lockheed Martin's facility in the US. A company executive had told defenseworld.net earlier that there are several sales prospects for the F-16V, both new and upgrades to existing versions such as the Block C and D.
There are hundreds of legacy F-16s operating with air forces in Europe, Asia and the Middle East which could potentially be updated to the F-16V version.
Interest in the F-16V is rising as a low-cost alternative to the F-35 whose development problems appear to be seeing no end. Lockheed Martin executives have been hard-selling the F-16 at defence and air shows much more than the F-35 in recent months. The company is optimistic about more F-16V international deals in the coming years.
Then there is the issue of technology transfer. The US department of defense has been denying parting with critical technologies to foreign countries. These include integrated systems for active electronically scanned array radar, electro-optical targeting pod, infrared search and track and radio frequency jammer with India under the manufacturing the aircraft for local consumption and exports.
In August last year article, defenseworld.net was among the first to point out that the setting up of F-16 production line would not be possible on the same grounds. It was undoubtedly clear that the US would not part with the critical technologies as it has denied the same technologies to South Korea, which is building its own fighter aircraft modelled along the F-16 with inputs from Lockheed Martin. Seoul is considered a closer ally to Washington than New Delhi.
The Indian government has sent a request for information (RFI) to manufacturers of single-engine fighter aircraft manufacturers for a possible make-in-India program. Only two global companies fit this bill- Lockheed Martin with its F-16 and Saab with its Gripen.
Both have tied with Indian companies to execute the project should they receive the contract to manufacture some 100 plus aircraft for the IAF.
India has sought guarantee from US for technology transfer in case any US based company bids for fighter jet program under the ‘Make in India’ initiative in July this year.
It was certain by March this year that the production line would not be set up in India. Lockheed Martin started shifting production of its F-16 fighter jets to Greenville from its existing Fort Worth, Texas facility effectively burying its plans to move the production line to India.
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
Will Lockheed Martin, which has offered to shift the production line of the F-16 fighter aircraft to India transfer four crucial technologies which have been denied to South Korea, a close US ally. In exchange for a large order of F-16 fighter aircraft from the Indian Air Force(IAF), Lockheed Martin is offering to close its only assembly line in Fort Worth, USA and relocate it to India
India may not acquire the US F-16 fighter aircraft in the immediate future. Indian defense minister Manohar Parrikar in reply to a question in Parliament last Friday said, “ India only needs experience of flying flying against F-16 and we are not going to induct F-16, at least, as of now
India has sought guarantee from US for technology transfer in case any US based company bids for fighter jet program under the ‘
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The US State Department has approved a possible sale to the Government of Greece for an upgrade of F-16 aircraft to an F-16 Block V configuration estimated to cost $2.4 billion
India will likely issue a Request for Information (RFI) next month to global manufacturers of single-engine fighter aircraft to procure over 100 jets for the Indian Air Force (IAF). While a small number would be imported from abroad, the bulk is expected to be manufactured in India under the ‘Make-in-India program
Lockheed Martin has been awarded a $60.5 million contract for the execution of the C-130 wing durability test
Lockheed Martin is being awarded $29 million modification contract for the procurement of non-recurring special tooling and special test equipment that are required to meet current and future F-35 production rates. Work is expected to be completed in May 2021, the US Department of Defense said in a statement Monday
Lockheed Martin is being awarded a $60 million modification contract for the identification and execution of cost savings projects to reduce the cost of the F-35 joint strike fighter air system. Work is expected to be completed in July 2020, the US department of Defense said in a statement Monday
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