US defense giant Lockheed Martin offers to set up F-16 production center in India
New Delhi: Lockheed Martin, American global aerospace and defense technologies company is in a race with the Sweden-based Saab to build 100 single-engine fighter jets for the Indian Air Force (IAF).
The US defense giant has offered to eventually build all the jets at a proposed plant in India under Prime Minister Narendra Modi's 'Make in India plan, if it wins a bigger order to supply.
A top executive of Lockheed Martin, Randall L. Howard, who leads F-16 business development, told Reuters that the company is offering to make India the sole F-16 production centre, so eventually, it will make the planes not just for India, but also for other countries.
The company is closing its F-16 production line at Fort Worth in Texas and will start supplying new orders from a new facility in South Carolina. But the plan is to eventually build the planes in India, Howard told Reuters.
"... the company plans to have a single production line in India that would service the new production requirements of global demand, the global market, " Howard said.
He clarified that the proposed plan of a production line in India doesn't clash with President Donald Trump's 'America First' campaign under which companies are pressed to invest in the United States and create jobs. As the Indian contract will protect thousands of jobs at Lockheed in the United States and at the components suppliers too, Howard stated.
Lockheed has picked Tata Advanced Systems as its local partner, on the other Saab yet to decide on its Indian collaborator to produce the Gripen E aircraft that it has offered to the air force.
However, the Government of India is set to issue a formal request to Lockheed and Saab to provide information about their plans to design, develop and produce combat jets in India, a government official said.