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10:20 AM, April 7, 2016
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India Seeks Tech Transfer Guarantee For F-16, F/A-18 Make-in-India Bids
F-16 Fighter Jet (Image: Lockheed Martin on Flickr)

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.

Boeing is offering F/A-18 fighters and Lockheed Martin has offered to manufacture F-16 fighters in India.

This was part of the two-day talks held between the defence policy groups of the two countries in the run-up to the meeting between Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar and his US counterpart Ashton Carter, The Tribune reported Thursday.

The two leaders will meet for delegation-level talks on April 12 in New Delhi. Carter will arrive in Goa on April 10.

Boeing and Lockheed Martin have submitted proposals for fighter jets under the Centre’s “Make in India” initiative.

Lockheed Martin is expected to make a formal offer to New Delhi about manufacturing the F-16 fighter aircraft in India this 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 last month.

"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.

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.

Boeing had offered to build its latest version of F/A-18 Super Hornet in India if given a chance by the Indian Air Force (IAF) in October last year.

The Indian Navy is in serious discussions with the US Government for the US Navy’s latest aircraft launch and recovery system, the EMALS by General Atomics (GA), for its second indigenous aircraft carrier due out by 2029.

If India finally selects the EMALS, the US Government could suggest inclusion of the F/A-18 also, and the combined numbers for the IAF and Navy could justify production with technology transfer.

India is looking for additional fighter jets once it signs the Rafale deal with Dassualt Aviation of France. Sources said Swedish company Saab that makes the Gripen jet has committed to transfer of technology. 

In the past, transfer of technology has been a major issue as India has refused to sign three agreements that the US terms "foundational agreements". The US wants India to sign the three pacts so that the Defence Technology and Trade Initiative (DTTI) could progress in the right direction, the news daily reported.

The agreements are: Communications interoperability and security memorandum of agreement (CISMOA), basic exchange and cooperation agreement for geo-spatial cooperation (BECA) and the logistics support agreement (LSA). Of these, the LSA is in an advanced stage of talks.

Air Chief Marshal Arup Raha has recently said the government is planning to start a “second assembly line” for fighter planes under the “Make in India” project. The first being the locally made Light Combat Aircraft (LCA) — the Tejas.

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