Aero India 2019: Lockheed Martin, Tata arm to jointly produce F-21 fighter jet locally; unveil model for India

A day after Swedish defence firm Saab AB said it could offer to produce Gripen fighter planes in India, American Defence giant Lockheed Martin on Wednesday unveiled the F-21 multi-role fighter jet for the country, to be produced locally, said media reports.

Lockheed Martin is eyeing a multi-billion dollar military order from India as well.

Specifically configured for the IAF, the F-21 provides "unmatched" Make in India opportunities and strengthens India's path to an advanced air power future, the firm said announcing the plan on the opening day at the Aero India 2019 air show in Bengaluru.

Lockheed Martin and Tata Advanced Systems would produce the F-21 in India, for India, it said in a statement.

The US defence major, which had earlier offered its F-16 fighter to India, said the F-21 addresses the IAF's unique requirements and integrates India into the world's largest fighter aircraft ecosystem.

"The F-21 is different, inside and out," said  Vivek Lall, vice president of strategy and business development for Lockheed Martin Aeronautics.

Aero India 2019: Lockheed Martin, Tata arm to jointly produce F-21 fighter jet locally; unveil model for India

Representational image. Reuters.

"The new (F-21) designation highlights our commitment to delivering an advanced, scalable fighter aircraft to the Indian Air Force that also provides unrivaled industrial opportunities and accelerates closer India-US cooperation on advanced technologies," he said.

This "unprecedented" Make in India opportunity combines the strength of the world's largest defence contractor with India's premier industrial house to deliver "a historic win-win" for India and the United States, the statement said.

On Tuesday, Saab said ahead of the 'Aero India 2019' in Bengaluru that it was considering locally manufacturing 96 of the 114 Gripen fighter jets it wanted to sell to the country.

Saab is seeking to sell its Gripen fighter jets to the Indian Air Force (IAF).

Saab is expected to face competition from rivals such as Boeing Co, Lockheed Martin Corp and Dassault Aviation SA to supply about 110 fighter jets to the IAF, in what could be a deal worth more than $15 billion.

Saab has tied up with resources conglomerate Adani Group to sell the single-engine planes to fulfill the condition of bidders having an Indian partner to be considered for the order.

Any manufacturing facility in the country could also become an export hub, Saab’s Indian unit chairman and managing director Ola Rignell told Reuters.

The cities of Bengaluru and Hyderabad would be the “natural choice” for any plant.

With inputs from agencies

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Updated Date: Feb 20, 2019 17:50:16 IST

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