US defence giant Lockheed Martin has projected exports to the tune of $20 billion from its proposed F-16 fighter aircraft manufacturing facility in India, reports Reuters.
The estimate is based on potential external demand for 200 aircraft, besides the 114 fighters which are required by the Indian Air Force (IAF).
The firm is involved in close competition with Boeing’s F/A-18, Saab’s Gripen, Dassault Aviation’s Rafale, the Eurofighter Typhoon and a Russian fighter to win a contract in excess of $15 billion to supply 114 jets to the IAF. The offer to shift production capacity to India is part of its bid to clinch the deal.
The vice president of strategy and business development at Lockheed Martin, Vivek Lall stated that the company plans to make India its sole F-16 manufacturing base both for domestic and global markets.
"We see current demand outside of India of more than 200 aircraft. The value of those initial acquisition programs would likely exceed $20 billion," he stated.
He revealed that Bahrain and Slovakia have already selected the F-16 Block 70 variant which has been offered to India. The report claimed that ten other countries are considering the fighter as well.
Lockheed Martin has chosen Tata Advanced Systems as its local partner for the proposed F-16 facility; it declared last year that two would produce wings for the aircraft in India, irrespective of being awarded the IAF contract.
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