Mumbai: The world’s largest defence company, Lockheed Martin Corp., started a unit on Wednesday in India, ahead of the government’s plan to purchase $11 billion (Rs432,30 crore) of fighter jets.
The Indian unit will offer F-16 multi-role fighter aircraft, P-3 maritime surveillance aircraft, C-130J transport planes, MH-60R helicopters and air and missile-defence systems, the Bethesda, Maryland-based company said in a statement. Douglas A. Hartwick will head the Indian operations.
Lockheed, Raytheon Co. and Boeing Co. are trying to win Indian military contracts for the first time as political relations improve between India and the US. Indian imports of military equipment are expected to increase 12-fold to $30 billion by 2012, according to lobby group Assocham.
India, which operates Russian MiG and Sukhoi planes in its air force, in June invited bids for 126 fighter jets, the biggest order for combat planes in 15 years. No deadline has been given for the sale.
India intends to buy multi-role fighter jets, 1.55mm howitzers, helicopters and long-range maritime spy aircraft, according to Assocham. The country spent Rs10,020 crore in the year ended 31 March 2007, to import defence equipment. It was the world’s 10th biggest military spender last year, according to the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute.
Indian government rules stipulate a portion of the order value won by overseas suppliers must be placed with local companies.