Lockheed Martin is eyeing Tata Group as a potential partner for F-16 flagship in India.
“Naturally we would gravitate to Tata,“ George Standridge, Lockheed’s vice president for Aeronautics Strategy and Business Development was quoted as saying in an interview in New Delhi by Star-Telegram on Wednesday. “We know them well and we have worked with them well.”
Lockheed, Boeing and Saab are all maneuvering for the next big fighter jet contract in India, which may be announced in the next year. India still needs hundreds of warplanes after Prime Minister Narendra Modi scaled back an order for Rafale jets due to disagreements over price.
About a third of India’s 650 fighter jets are more than 40 years old, putting the nation’s defenses at risk as neighboring China bolsters its military capabilities. Replacing them with planes made locally would improve security and help achieve Modi’s goal of transforming India from the world’s biggest weapons importer into a global hub for defense manufacturing.
Lockheed and Tata Advanced Systems have had a joint venture since 2012 to build tail sections and wing-box components for the C-130 cargo plane. Tata Advanced Systems had no comment on a possible tie-up with Lockheed to build F-16s, according to a spokesperson.