Lockheed Martin is expected to make a formal offer to New Delhi about manufacturing the F-16 fighter aircraft in India next month.
Lockheed Martin officials will be travelling to India with a formal offer next month, Susan Ouzts, vice president of Lockheed’s F-16 program told reporters during the annual media day in Washington Tuesday.
“Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi had expressed “substantial” interest in the plane during a recent meeting with Lockheed,” Susan said.
“Lockheed was working with the US government, which is in talks with India about possibly building F-16s in India,” said Orlando Carvalho, Lockheed’s Aeronautics division.
"We are ready to manufacture F-16 in India and support the Make in India initiative," Phil Shaw, chief executive of Lockheed Martin India said during the Singapore Airshow 2016.
Industry observers said Lockheed Martin's "wish to manufacture F-16 is based on the strong demand from the Indian armed forces and would want to lower the cost of the planes for exports by using the low-cost capability in India”.
"Certainly, Lockheed Martin would want to exploit the engineering skill and low cost capabilities in India and make F-16 very competitive in the fighter jet markets," PTI news agency quoted an unnamed source as saying in Februrary.
“If the two governments reach an agreement this year or 2017, putting aside all differences on the mega project and the US' move to supply eight F-16 to Pakistan, Lockheed Martin could roll out the first made in India jet in 2019-2020,” the source said.
Lockheed Martin has offered India advanced version of the F-16 fighter jets than those that will be delivered to Pakistan.