BENGALURU: United States based aircraft-maker Lockheed Martin that had offered to move its F-16 fighter aircraft production line from the US to India, has started the ground work with the hope that India would accept its offer.
The offer comes with a condition that India buys the fighter. “We want to be prepared and that is the reason we have started the ground work,’’ Abhay Paranjape, Director, Business Development, India, Lockheed Martin told Express. “On Monday, we met representatives of 40 defense and aviation firms from across the country to discuss our offer on making F-16 in India,’’ Paranjape added.
Earlier this year, Lockheed Martin made an offer to India that it would shift its only F-16 aircraft production line to India provided, the Indian Air Force (IAF) buys the aircraft.
“We are offering to make F-16 Block 70, the most advanced aircraft in India. It is one of the most proven fighter aircraft in the world and is flown by air forces in 25 countries,’’ said Randall L Howard, who looks after F-16 Business Development.
The proposal of shifting the production line, works out for the US firm and also to Indian industries only if there are initial orders from the IAF. If the IAF buys 100 aircraft, it gives stability to the industry that will invest lot of money in various manufacturing units that support the production line, he said. “We make it in India, for India and then we make it in India and export to world. If the initial orders are not there, it may not work for the industry,’’ Randall added.
Though India has not yet responded to the offer, the top executives at Lockheed are hopeful that it will accept the offer. “The response has been positive. After we made an offer they asked us right questions. They are looking for single-engine fighter and we are offering one of the best aircraft, so we are confident that India will accept the offer,’’ said Paranjape.
“They have sent letters to a few firms, including us (about acquiring single engine aircraft),’’ he said.