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US taking fresh look at moving F-16 production to India

15th February 2017, 12:00 Hrs

PTI

Washington

The Trump Administration is taking a “fresh look” at Lockheed Martin's proposal to have a F-16 manufacturing base in India if it agrees to buy the fighter jets, officials from the US defence giant said.

“For several months, we've been working with President Trump's transition and governance teams and leaders in Congress providing information on our many programmes and potential business opportunities including the proposed sale of F-16 fighter aircraft to India,” a Lockheed official told PTI.

Lockheed, which is one of the top global manufacturers of fighter jets, said that its officials have briefed the Trump Administration on the current proposal, which was supported by the Obama Administration as part of a broader cooperative dialogue with the Government of India.

In August, Lockheed had offered to move its lone production line of the latest version of F 16-Block 70 to India from Texas to meet Indian and global requirement.

However, the company made it clear the proposal is “conditional” to Indian Air Force choosing the worlds largest-sold fighter aircraft for its fleet.

“We understand that the Trump Administration will want to take a fresh look at some of these programmes and we stand prepared to support that effort to ensure that any deal of this importance is properly aligned with US policy priorities,” the official said.

Ultimately, the configuration of any F-16 sale to India will be determined by government to government discussions, the Lockheed official noted referring to the fact that all major defence sales need approval of the US Government.

Lockheed official said that the company continues to believe that the F-16 is the right aircraft to meet India's needs and the possibility of selling F-16 aircraft to India represents a significant opportunity for the US economy.

“The selection of the F-16 by India would preserve US jobs at Lockheed Martin and throughout our US supply chain. It could also create opportunities for future aircraft sales and upgrades by keeping F-16 production active,” the official said.

According to Lockheed, which has been in India for more than 25 years, this unique F-16 opportunity delivers advanced defence capabilities and strengthens the strategic partnership between the US and India.

In India, Lockheed Martin has joint venture company with Tata Advanced Systems Limited (TASL), which has proven that Indian industry can manufacture airframe components for the C-130J airlifter and the S-92 helicopter.

“We hope to build on that success with the F-16, the worlds most successful, combat-proven multi-role fighter.

Because when it comes to success in complex environments, we know trusted partnerships can make a world of difference,” the company said.

Lockheed opened its India subsidiary in 2008.

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