Defence supplier of Pentagon to enter India

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Kolkata, Dec 7: Lockheed Martin, the number one defence suppliers of the Pentagon, is set to enter India through a one-billion dollar deal for supplying C130J Hercules, a speciality cargo aircraft for the Indian Air Force (IAF), likely to be signed in the next three months.

The US defence contractor, also set to compete in the bid for supplying F16 fighter jets to the IAF,is scouting for participation in other areas as well, including shipbuilding for the Indian navy, for a bigger presence in the country.

''We are working with the Defence Ministry of India for supplying six C130J Hercules cargo aircraft for the Indian Air Force. We hope to sign the agreement before the end of this fiscal,'' Lockheed Martin India Managing Director Royce L Caplinger said here today.

Talking to reporters on the sidelines of a FICCI-sponsored seminar on 'India innovation growth programme', Mr Caplinger said the aircraft also has the ability to carry passengers and troops.

''This will be the first defence deal between India and the US,'' he said.

The company, participating in a global tender for supplying 126 new fighter jets to India, would submit its technical proposal by March, 2008 to vie for a potential 10-billion dollar deal.

''We will be competing for the supply of F16 fighter jets by participating in the global tender,'' Mr Caplinger said.

According to official sources, there are six global aerospace powerhouses, coming from Russia, Europe and the Unites States for the deal.

Lockheed Martin and Boeing -- the Pentagon's No one and No two suppliers by sales -- had been invited, among the others, by India for the first time to bid to supply fighters.

Mr Caplinger said Lockeed, eager to participate in various fields in the country, had been in talks with the Indian navy for ship building activities. ''We are also looking for net-centric operations in the field of defence netwroking technology and providing IT services to the state Governments in India,'' he said.

In reply to a question, Mr Caplinger said Lockheed was also looking for joint reserch with Defence Research and Development Orgnaisation (DRDO) in specific areas.

''We believe we will be able to enter the Indian defence market.

But it will take a little bit of time to establish ourselves as a reliable supplier,'' he said.

Observing that Lockheed had been able to establish its brand in India after being 'sidelined' for many years, Mr Caplinger said the presence of the company in the country would largely depend on the 'Government to Government relation' between the two nations.

Launching in association with FICCI the second round of 'Lockheed Martin India innovation Growth Program 2008', the company threw open opportunities for Indian technologists and entrepreneurs to accelerate innovative technologies into the US market and across the world.

The programme accepted applications from all over the country and shortlisted 60 technologists before selecting 30 of them through a panel to be given training in commercialisation strategies.


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