Lockheed Martin, Tata ink deal to make F-16 fighter planes in India
Tata Group and American aerospace giant Lockheed Martin on Monday signed an "unprecedented" deal to jointly produce the combat-proven F-16 fighter jets in India, boosting Prime Minister Narendra Modi's 'Make in India' plan ahead of his first summit with US President Donald Trump.
Under the deal, Lockheed will shift its Fort Worth, Texas plant to India without directly affecting American jobs, a campaign pledge of Trump who has vowed to put "America First".
The deal announced on the sidelines of the Paris Airshow between Tata Advanced Systems Limited and Lockheed is ideally suited to meet the Indian Air Force's single-engine fighter needs.
The two companies said this unmatched US-Indian industry partnership directly supports New Delhi's initiative to develop private aerospace and defence manufacturing capacity in the country under the 'Make in India' initiative.
"This agreement builds on the already established joint venture between Lockheed Martin and Tata and underscores the relationship and commitment between the two companies," said N Chandrasekaran, chairman of Tata Sons. The company said the "unprecedented" F-16 production partnership between the world's largest defence contractor and India's premier industrial house provides India the opportunity to produce, operate and export F-16 Block 70 aircraft, the newest and most advanced version of the world's most successful, combat-proven multi-role fighter.
F-16 fighter jet is a single-engine supersonic multirole fighter aircraft originally developed by General Dynamics (now Lockheed Martin) for the United States Air Force (USAF). Designed as an air superiority day fighter, it evolved into a successful all-weather multirole aircraft. Over 4,500 aircraft have been built since production was approved in 1976.
The fighter's key features include a frameless bubble canopy for better visibility, side-mounted control stick to ease control while maneuvering, a seat reclined 30 degrees to reduce the effect of g-forces on the pilot, and the first use of a relaxed static stability/fly-by-wire flight control system which helps to make it a nimble aircraft. The F-16 has an internal M61 Vulcan cannon and 11 locations for mounting weapons and other mission equipment.