Lockheed Martin and India’s Tata Advanced Systems has signed an agreement to manufacture F-16 fighter planes in India. This would lead to shifting of Fort Worth plant in Texas to India. Lockheed is eyeing for the multi-billion dollar Indian fighter jet deal. Therefore it is hoping that this step will push the deal in its favour.
The Indian air force is in dire need to replace its ageing fleet of aircraft. However, the Prime Minister Narendra Modi has previously stated that foreign supplier would need to set up a manufacturing facility in India. This is to ensure that the country is able to produce jobs alongside. Moreover, the deal should include one prominent Indian defence maker as well.
However, the plans to Make-in-India could run into trouble. The recent US development where the President Donald Trump is looking to preserve the jobs in the US. It looks difficult as to how Lockheed would strategically take the manufacturing into India?
The announcement was made in Paris Airshow. Both the signatories assured that while the manufacturing will take place in India, the jobs in the United States will not see any effect.
The SAAB from Sweden is the next contender. However, they have failed to announce Indian partner to produce its Gripen fighter jet. Moreover, it is pitching its jet as the best alternative to F-16’s as it is more modern in terms of technology.
The announcement has come in at a vital time. The Indian Prime Minister Modi is visiting the Washinton DC first time to meet Trump. This meeting will take place on 26th June. India and United States have become close partners in defence and technology. The United States is the number one arms supplier to India. The other two being Russia and Isreal beating the French.
The Jets made in India will have the chance to export to other countries. India will produce the latest Block 70, F-16 jets. There are 3,200 F-16’s in 26 countries.
Tata is already a part maker for C-130 military transport aircraft.
The final count for the Jets is not out. However, the view is that India needs around 250 single jet fighter planes. Moreover, this number could also increase in future.