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Lockheed Martin bids for IAF’s $10 bn fighter jet order

Lockheed Martin bids for IAF’s $10 bn fighter jet order


New Delhi: US fighter jet producer Lockheed Martin on 28 April submitted its bid for Indian Air Force’s mega deal for induction of 126 medium multi-role combat aircraft (MMRCA), claiming its F-16IN would exceed India’s expectations.

“The F-16IN is specifically tailored to meet IAF needs and is the most advanced multi-role combat aircraft in production anywhere in the world today. We have spent years assessing the needs of IAF and we believe it will not just meet but exceed Indian expectations," Lockheed Martin Aeronautics Company president Ralph D Heath told PTI here.

The F-16IN is competing with compatriot Boeing’s F-18 Superhornet, EADS’ Eurofighter Typhoon, Russian Aircraft Corporation’s MiG-35, French firm Dassault’s Rafale and Swedish firm SAAB’s Gripen JAS-39 for the $10 billion deal.

Under the conditions of IAF’s Request for Proposal (RFP), 18 of the selected jet fighters would be bought off the shelf and the remaining 108 delivered through public sector HAL under licensed production with the Indian industry.

The RFPs of both Lockheed Martin’s F-16IN and Boeing IDS’ F-18s were submitted to the Defence Ministry by US Embassy officials, along with those representing these firms. Lockheed Martin was recently awarded the contract for six heavylift C-130J Super Hercules tactical airlifters to IAF.

Asked about the advanced technologies being offered to IAF as the F-16s form part of the Pakistan Air Force fighter fleet too, Heath said the F-16IN would have “a multitude of cutting-edge technologies".

The technologies include APG-80 Active Electronically Scanned Array radar, GE’s F110-132A engine for powerful thrust, a large weapon inventory, advanced electronic warfare suite and fuel tanks to extend the range of the combat jet, Lockheed Martin aeronautic division’s chief said.

Asked if Lockheed would be co-developing fifth-generation fighters with India, he said they were looking at jointly developing technologies with India. “We advocate the path of (India’s) logical transition from F-16s to the F-35s, beyond the MMRCA requirements."

The only two fifth-generation aircraft in different stages of development in the world today — F-22s and F-35s — are the products of Lockheed Martin.

Responding to Lockheed’s India subsidiary’s initiative with FICCI on an innovation programme, he said: “We are interested in exploring different ideas with Indian industry in a collaborative fashion... but not calling it fifth generation."

Orville Prins, vice-president, business development (India), said the F-16IN was a tested multi-role fighter, with 24 nations having chosen it as their front-line war jet.

He said assembly lines to make F-16s had been set up in four countries outside the US — Turkey, Korea, Belgium and the Netherlands. Additionally, the company has successfully achieved over $37 billion in offset programme credits in 40 countries.

The IAF tender for 126 MMRCAs was issued last year and the deadline of March three was later extended till today.

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