The US Trump administration may want a fresh look at Lockheed Martin’s proposal to move production of F-16 fighter jets to India.
"We've briefed the Administration on the current proposal, which was supported by the Obama Administration as part of a broader cooperative dialogue with the Government of India," a Lockheed Martin Spokesperson was quoted as saying by Reuters Thursday.
"We understand that the Trump Administration will want to take a fresh look at some of these programs, and we stand prepared to support that effort to ensure that any deal of this importance is properly aligned with US policy priorities."
With no more orders for the F-16 from the Pentagon, Lockheed plans to use its Fort Worth, Texas plant instead to produce the fifth generation F-35 Joint Strike Fighter that the United States Air Force is transitioning to.
Lockheed would switch F-16 production to India, as long as the Indian government agrees to order hundreds of the planes that its air force desperately needs.
Trump has criticised US companies that have moved manufacturing overseas and which then sell their products back to the US In his first few weeks in office, he has pushed companies, from automakers to pharmaceutical firms, to produce more in the US.
In Lockheed's case, however, the plan is to build the F-16 to equip the Indian Air Force, and not sell them back into the United States.
A person close to Lockheed said company officials did not know what the Trump administration planned to do about the proposal to shift F-16 production to India.
"They're following it closely and talking with the White House. But if they don't move production to India, there's no way they'll get the India contract," the person said.
One argument to be made was that moving to India would preserve some component production in the United States. "Twenty-five percent of something is better than zero percent of nothing," the person said.