Ahead of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s visit to the US later this month, the government is set to give its nod to an application from US-based defence manufacturer Lockheed Martin to set up a project office in India. The company has expressed its interest in participating in Modi’s ‘Make In India’ campaign, and its CEO met the Prime Minister during the latter’s visit to the US in September 2014.
According to government sources, the Prime Minister’s Office has taken an interest in the application, and it is being processed on priority before Modi’s visit to the US. A final clearance is expected from the finance ministry soon, sources said. The defence and home ministries have already conveyed their approval for security clearance to the project office, based on earlier clearance granted to a liaison office of Lockheed Martin in New Delhi.
“The application from Lockheed Martin has been taken up during recent meetings, as it is likely that the Prime Minister could meet the CEO of the company on his US visit this month,” said a government source.
Lockheed Martin’s largest programme in India is the C-130J Super Hercules, the first major military contract between the US and India in more than 40 years. India joined the list of first time C-130 operators with 72 countries now operating the aircraft. Lockheed Martin and Tata Advanced Systems have formed a joint venture company in India, Tata Lockheed Martin Aerostructures, for manufacturing airframe components for the C-130J.
While the company claims that it has maintained a presence in Delhi for “20 years”, Boeing’s platform FA- 18 Super Hornet was also in the competition for multi-billion Medium Multi-Role Combat Aircraft (MMRCA), with India opting for French Rafale fighters. The US offer to jointly develop Javelin missile along with Lockheed Martin has taken a backstage after India opted to go for Israeli Spike Anti Tank Guided Missile recently.