SINGAPORE (Online) – US fighter jet maker Lockheed Martin says it is ready to manufacture F-16 aircraft in India and supports the ongoing talks between the two countries to set up the first manufacturing facility, one of the largest projects under the ‘Make in India’ initiative.
“We are ready to manufacture F-16 in India and support the Make in India initiative,” Phil Shaw, chief executive of Lockheed Martin India Private Ltd told reporters on Thursday at the Singapore Airshow 2016.
But the American corporation’s executive did not commit any time-frame to have the plant operational, saying the group supports the ongoing government-to-government talks.
Shaw expressed strong interest in having the F-16 made in India “soon” without elaborating on the time-frame, linking it to the progress of the government-to-government talks.
Currently, Lockheed Martin manufactures one jet a month from its plant in the US and has a series of contracts and joint ventures in India with over 1,000 employees.
It has supplied six C130J Super Hercules planes to India in 2011 and will be delivering another six helicopters next year.
Industry observers said Lockheed Martin’s “wish to manufacture F-16 is based on the strong demand from the Indian armed forces and would want to lower the cost of the planes for exports by using the low-cost capability in India”.
“Certainly, Lockheed Martin would want to exploit the engineering skill and low cost capabilities in India and make F-16 very competitive in the fighter jet markets,” a well-informed source said.
“Both the US government and Lockheed Martin see the advantage of placing a manufacturing base in India and make F-16 affordable for emerging markets,” the source said.
The making of F-16, which will be among the largest projects under the Make in India initiative, will be conditional to the Indian government making contractual commitment to buy the fighter jets for its armed forces, said the Indian officials.