US has denied transfer of critical technology and production of F-16 fighter jets under the ‘Make in India’ initiative.
To a question on whether the US has agreed for transfer of sophisticated technology and production of F-16 jets under the ‘Make in India’ initiative, Subhash Bhamre, Minister of State for Defense said “no”. Bhamre was answering the question in the parliament Tuesday.
The critical technologies in question are integrated systems for active electronically scanned array radar, electro-optical targeting pod, infrared search and track and radio frequency jammer. It may be recalled the US had refused to part with these technologies for the South Korean K-FX aircraft, a derivative of the F-16 made by Korean Aerospace Industries in association with Lockheed Martin. South Korea is building its own fighter plane closely modelled along the F-16 with a number of crucial inputs coming from Lockheed Martin.
These technologies form an important component of the F-16V fighter jet, the latest evolution of the world’s most successful war plane that has been offered to New Delhi. 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 last month.
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.
In exchange for a large order of F-16 fighter aircraft from the Indian Air Force (IAF), Lockheed Martin had earlier offered to close its only assembly line in Fort Worth, USA and relocate it to India. The question asked by Defenseworld.net in August 2016 is now being answered.
This wouldn’t have been the first time the F-16 would be made abroad. During the 1970s a joint US/European program produced F-16s for four NATO countries from three assembly lines in the Netherlands, Belgium, and Fort Worth. Assembly lines in Turkey and Korea also produced F-16s under license for their own air forces.