US government supports setting up F-16 facility in India: Lockheed Martin
Bengaluru, Feb 16 (IANS) Lockheed Martin on Thursday said it is getting all support from the US government for its plan to move the production facility of its F-16 next generation fighters to India.
Randall L. Howard, F-16 Business Development head at Lockheed Martin, said at a press conference here that talks with the Indian government for the facility have reached a level where it is likely to turn into a government-to-government discussion.
“We have strong support from the US government. The discussions are at a point where it has become a government-to-government issue,” Howard said.
Lockheed Martin has offered to move its production line of the latest version of fighter aircraft F-16 Block 70 to India from Texas to meet Indian and global requirement.
The Defence Ministry has said it is looking forward to start a line of production for both single engine and twin engine fighter aircraft in India. This will however happen only when India chooses the aircraft for the Indian Air Force.
Randy said so far the company has received a communication from India inquiring about single engine aircraft.
In October 2016, the Defence Ministry started issuing requests-for-information (RFIs) for a new single-engine multi-role fighter to replace the Indian Air Force’s MiG-21 and MiG-27 fighters.
Saab’s Gripen and Lockheed Martin’s F-16 Block 70 have so far appeared to be top competitors for the deal.
Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar at a press conference on the first day of Aero India 2017 show here was asked if US President Donald Trump’s ‘America First’ would come in the way of Make in India and stop US firms from participating in the programme.
Parrikar had said the question should be asked to companies like Boeing and Lockheed Martin.
“…What I will say is what I want… I want you to Make in India, if someone wants to shift production to some place else, it is his choice,” Parrikar had said.