World’s largest armament company Lockheed Martin signed a pact with Tata Advanced Systems for producing the latest version of F16 fighter jets not anywhere else but in India.

This pact was signed under the “Make In India” campaign led by PM Modi. Lockheed-Tata tie-up will pitch for the F-16 against the Saab-manufactured Gripen-E fighter.

Comparatively, less expensive than F-16 and Gripenwere, these two varaints stand apart from the six contenders in the fleet of India’s original MMRCA (medium multi-role combat aircraft).

However, the MMRCA project was scrapped and inked a massive deal of Rs 59000 crore for 36 rafales.

The process of producing indigenous fighter Tejas is being delayed on the back of IAF suffering from meagre squadrons. The requirement of Tejas fighter is 42 squadrons, while IAF only has hold of 32 fighter squadrons, which is the sole reason of delay.

Atleast 100 fighters have been included under the second line, in which F-16 and Gripen-E fighters are the top contenders. Rafales, Eurofighter Typhoon and MiG-35s operate as twin engines. Almost 200 jets are covered under the second line.

However, if sources are to be believed, there is still a long time in the actual deal for the second line as the officials are still looking for an Indian private sector firm for the position of strategic partner, who will be responsible for the production of fighters. This process of selection is expected to take a long time.

At the Paris Air Show, the Lockheed-Tata venture made announced its intention on Monday to produce and export the F-16 Block 70 aircraft, which is the most advanced version of the jet. This will technically be the greatest achievement in the “Make In India” campaign.

According to sources, the strategic partner will be chosen through extensive negotiation process and bidding.

Under the SP policy, foreign original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) will be selected in a parallel process.


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