A Lockheed Martin executive announced that the company plans to manufacture the wings for its F-16 aircraft in India along with its local partner, Tata Advanced Systems Limited. The move is expected to come as a boost to the Make in India policy initiative being pushed by Prime Minister Modi.
Lockheed Martin is also bidding for a contract to supply the Indian Air Force with 114 combat aircraft estimated at $15 billion. All the aircraft under the proposed contract are to be made in India under the flagship Make in India initiative. However, the Lockheed Martin official said that the proposed manufacture of aircraft wings in India did not hinge on the company bagging the aircraft order.
A company statement stated that “Producing F-16 wings in India will strengthen Lockheed Martin’s strategic partnership with Tata and support Make in India”.
The timing of the announcement is also interesting as it comes just days before the 2+2 dialogue between the two countries aimed at promoting defence ties. External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj and Defense Minister Nirmala Sitharaman are slated to meet their American counterparts in New Delhi as part of the dialogue.