Lockheed Martin, the US-based aerospace and defense manufacturing firm announced that it would partner with Tata Advanced Systems Limited (TASL) to manufacture and export the F-16 Block 70 aircraft from India.
"Lockheed Martin and Tata Advanced Systems Limited (TASL) signed a landmark agreement affirming the companies' intent to join hands to produce the F-16 Block 70 in India. The F-16 Block 70 is ideally suited to meet the Indian Air Force's single-engine fighter needs and this unmatched U.S.-Indian industry partnership directly supports India's initiative to develop private aerospace and defense manufacturing capacity in India," a press release from Lockheed Martin read.
The development comes just days before Prime Minister Narendra Modi travels to the United States of America. It is being seen as a part of the PM's "Make in India," push.
The release further read, "This unprecedented F-16 production partnership between the world's largest defense contractor and India's premier industrial house provides India the opportunity to produce, operate and export F-16 Block 70 aircraft, the newest and most advanced version of the world's most successful, combat-proven multi-role fighter. F-16 production in India supports thousands of Lockheed Martin and F-16 supplier jobs in the U.S., creates new manufacturing jobs in India, and positions Indian industry at the center of the most extensive fighter aircraft supply ecosystem in the world.
India's air force needs hundreds of aircraft to replace its Soviet-era fleet, but Prime Minister Narendra Modi's government has said foreign suppliers would have to make the planes in India with a local partner to help build a domestic industrial base and cut outright imports.
N Chandrashekharan, Tata Sons Chairman, said in a statement, "This agreement builds on the already established joint venture between Lockheed Martin and Tata and underscores the relationship and commitment between the two companies."
A joint statements by the firms read, "F-16 production in India supports thousands of Lockheed Martin and F-16 supplier jobs in the U.S., creates new manufacturing jobs in India, and positions Indian industry at the center of the most extensive fighter aircraft supply ecosystem in the world."