American aerospace giant Lockheed Martin has submitted a proposal to supply F-21 fighter jets to the Air Force which sought 114 fighter jets worth US$18 billions and winning the bid may result in it working with 400 local companies, a senior official Vivek Lall has said.
The American company, which has a decade-long partnership with the Tata Advanced Systems Limited (TASL) on defence manufacturing, is also working on manufacturing the wings for its F-16 fighters from their JV plant in Hyderabad from and has started work on a prototype, which will enable it to supply to the world soon, its vice president for strategy and business development Vivek Lall told.
The American company is reported to be competing with Boeing, French company Dassault, and the Russian MiG 35. Indian Air Force has ruled out any Russian option after flying MiG-35 at MAKS 2019. Indian Air Force lost Ryssian-made fighter jets during Kashmir skirmish this year. Indian pilots raised serious concerns over the quality of Russian missiles and aircraft.
“The F-21 programme is a very strategic win-win for both the counties. It gets India an entirely different aerospace ecosystem. We have talked to and evaluated 400 companies in India, both public and private, and that is the kind of infrastructure that will be needed to support this,”Vivek Lall
The next stage in the procurement will be filing of an expression of interest, he said, indicating the company is keen to go ahead on the same.
Lall said the F-21 will come with 14 India Specific Enhancements (ISE), fifth-generation APG-83 SABR AESA Rdar and a specialized India-unique electronic warfare suite, a single engine that reduces the costs and also capacity to carry 40 percent more weaponry including AIM-120D AMRAAM, IRIS-T, AIM-9 Sidewinder, MALD-J, AGM-88 HARM, AGM-84, JSOW, JSSAM, GBU, and a Gatling Gun.
He also welcomed the recent warmth in the Indo-US relations, saying it is a win-win for both the sides which will help businesses forge partnerships.
The growth enhancing measures on taxation will be of particular help for local manufacturing, Lall said, but added that the company has no plans for investments into manufacturing in India.
He said the facility at the Tata employs 1,000 people in Hyderabad at present and there is no reason why the same should not grow if the ties expand.
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