New Delhi: The major American aerospace company Lockheed Martin, in its efforts to expand its investments in India under the ‘Make in India’ initiative, on Thursday offered to shift its assembly line of fighter aircraft F-16 Block 70 from Texas to India.
The F-16, a top of the line interceptor, is manufactured by Lockheed Martin. It is the largest selling fighter plane in the world and is in use in 26 nations at present.
This move by Lockheed to shift its lone production line of the latest version of the F-16 aircraft is being done to meet both the Indian and the global requirement of the aircraft, though the company’s proposal is ‘conditional’ on the IAF selecting the aircraft as its main fighter in its fleet.
“The offer we have given to the Indian government is unmatched and from our side unprecedented,” F-16 Business Development head at Lockheed Martin Randall L Howard said in New Delhi.
Interacting with mediapersons in New Delhi, Howard said the company wants to make F 16-Block 70 “for India, from India and export to the world”.
The world’s largest selling fighter plane is also used by the Pakistan Air Force. On being asked if Lockheed would refrain from selling F-16s to Pakistan, the Business Development head refused to comment.
With Lockheed’s American rival Boeing (F/A-18E), Dassault Aviation of France (Rafale), Swedish plane Gripen by Saab and the Eurofighter all offering to set up production facilities in New Delhi, Martin will be facing tough competition. However, Lockheed Martin is the only company that has offered to shift its entire production line to India.
Lockheed Martin believes that by moving production of the F-16s to India will lead to a fall in the price of the aircraft and which then may result in an increase in its global demand.
Defense Minister Mohan Parrikar had recently announced that the IAF would induct one more fighter interceptor in the IAF along with the Tejas.