Lockheed signs pact with Tata to make F-16 planes in India

In announcing their agreement at the Paris Airshow, Lockheed and Tata said moving the production base to India would still retain jobs in the United States

By: Reuters | Paris | Published:June 19, 2017 8:04 pm
In announcing their agreement at the Paris Airshow, Lockheed and Tata said moving the production base to India would still retain jobs in the United States (Source: twitter.com/LockheedMartin)

Lockheed Martin signed an agreement with India’s Tata Advanced Systems on Monday to produce F-16 fighter planes in India, pressing ahead with a plan to shift its Fort Worth, Texas plant to win billions of dollars worth of order from the Indian military. 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.

But Modi’s Make-in-India drive runs the risk of conflicting with U.S. President Donald Trump’s America First campaign under which he has been pressing for companies to invest in the United States and create jobs instead of setting up factories abroad. In announcing their agreement at the Paris Airshow, Lockheed and Tata said moving the production base to India would still retain jobs in the United States. “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,” a joint statement by the firms said.

Sweden’s Saab is the other contender to supply the Indian Air Force, offering to make its Gripen fighter in India. It has not yet announced a local partner for the plane which it has pitched as a modern alternative to the F-16s. The announcement comes days before Modi travels to Washington for a first meeting with Trump, scheduled for June. 26. India and the United States have built a close defence relationship in recent years with Washington emerging as among the top three arms suppliers to India, along with Russia and Israel.

India will also have the chance to export the F-16 that is flown by air forces around the world, the joint statement said. Some 3,200 of these planes are being flown by 26 countries and the model that is being offered to India will be Block 70, the most modern of all the F-16s. “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,” the statement said.

Tata is already building airframe components for the C-130 military transport aircraft. India has not opened formal bidding for the jet order, which is expected to be anything from 100 planes to 250.

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  1. B
    Jun 20, 2017 at 5:41 am
    Make in USA. A s s emble in India!
    1. G
      George Cruz
      Jun 20, 2017 at 5:34 am
      This is an excellent decision by by Lockheed Martin to manufacture the US flagship aircraft F-16 Lockheed Martin at India’s Tata advanced Systems. This is part of the visionary Modi's "make in India" scheme which will produce millions more high tech jobs in India. The western countries defense are increasingly considering India as their manufacturing hub for various high tech products because of India's educated work force.
      1. R
        Rajveer Singh
        Jun 20, 2017 at 12:37 am
        Nuclear country and still spending trillions on conventional arms. Why can't India follow Pakistan by producing own jets. Any embargo and Indian industry will collapse
        1. S
          Sanjay Bhattacharya
          Jun 19, 2017 at 11:02 pm
          We need trillions of dollars to develop our country and armed forces. Congress has looted the country year after year. We cannot depend on an Italian lady who has no love for India. We have lost 10 years from 2004 to 2014. Now let us support Modi and take the country on the path of real progress.
          1. C
            Jun 19, 2017 at 9:51 pm
            Good hope some more corps would start manufacturing units in the nation and use the Indian talent for mutual benefit Jaihind.
            1. A
              Jun 19, 2017 at 9:34 pm
              This not best as it sounds out to be from the i n d i a n view the f 16 is an outdated machine with only software upgrade which may seen fancy affordable buy but will they stand in battle ? its a big doubt yet guess no. Dog fighters should always be a indigenous that's the strength of any county if it needs to win.If any bargain chip is made out of this deal favourable for india it will be a good one.
              1. V
                Jun 19, 2017 at 10:08 pm
                How does I stack up against LCA tejas .
              2. A
                Ashutosh V Divecha
                Jun 19, 2017 at 8:30 pm
                GREAT GOING - JAI HO - NAMO NAMO
                1. H
                  Jun 19, 2017 at 8:14 pm
                  I am so proud of Mera Bharat, again and again!!!
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