Lockheed Martin Corp. may link up with the Tata Group to build F-16 fighter jets for India.
“Naturally we would gravitate to Tata,” George Standridge, Lockheed’s vice president for aeronautics strategy and business development, told Bloomberg in an interview in New Delhi on Wednesday, when asked about the production of F-16s.
“We know them well and we have worked with them well.”
Lockheed, Boeing Co. and Saab AB are seeking to secure India’s next big fighter jet contract, which may be announced next year.
India still needs hundreds of warplanes after Prime Minister Narendra Modi scaled back an order for Rafale jets due to disagreements over price.
About a third of India’s 650 fighter jets are more than 40 years old, putting the nation’s defenses at risk as neighboring China bolsters its military capabilities, Bloomberg said.
Replacing them with planes made locally would improve security and help achieve Modi’s goal of transforming India from the world’s biggest weapons importer into a global hub for defense manufacturing.
Lockheed and Tata Advanced Systems Ltd. have had a joint venture since 2012 to build tail sections and wing-box components for the C-130 cargo plane’s global supply chain.
Tata Advanced Systems had no comment on a possible tie-up with Lockheed to build F-16s, according to a spokesperson.
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