Lockheed Martin offered India a new combat jet, F-21, on Wednesday to be made locally, in a bid to win a large military order worth over $15 billion. The announcement comes in the backdrop of the firm vying for the multi-billion dollar order from India, which has floated a Request For Information (RFI) for 114 fighter aircraft. Lockheed Martin, while claiming that the new plane will be specifically configured for the Indian Air Force (IAF), said that it will have Make in India opportunities that no other firm had offered earlier.
The announcement was made at the Aero India show in Bengaluru, and the firm said in a statement that it would partner with Tata Advanced Systems to produce the F-21 in India. The F-21 will be completely different, the company said, adding that the new plane highlights its commitment to delivering an advanced, scalable fighter aircraft to the IAF, while also providing industrial opportunities locally. However, it could not be immediately confirmed whether the IAF has already been consulted with about the new aircraft. The IAF though is aware of the F-16 fighter that Lockheed has offered as part of the new RFI.
Lockheed Martinm had offered the F-16 Block 70 as part of the MMRCA (medium multi-role combat aircraft) deal which was bagged by Dassault’s Rafale. Lockheed is competing with Boeing’s F/A-18, Saab’s Gripen, Dassault Aviation’s Rafale, the Eurofighter Typhoon and a Russian aircraft for the air force order. Lockheed said that the Make in India opportunity the F-21 offers combines the strength of the world’s largest defence contractor with India’s premier industrial house to deliver a ‘win-win’ situation for India and the US.