SINGAPORE: Lockheed Martin, a premier defence technologies company from the United States (US), on Thursday said it is ready start manufacturing F-16 fighter jets in India, in support of ‘Make in India’ initiative launched by the incumbent Narendra Modi government, reported The Times of India.
The defence company also supported the ongoing talks between the two countries for the setting up of Lockheed Martin’s manufacturing plant in India, one of the largest projects under the ‘Make in India’ initiative.
“We are ready to manufacture F-16 aircraft in India and support the Make in India initiative,” Phil Shaw, chief executive of Lockheed Martin India told reporters at the Singapore Airshow 2016.
Read: ‘Disappointed’ India summons US ambassador over sale of F-16s to Pakistan
The chief executive expressed strong interest in having the jets manufactured in India ‘soon’, but linked the timeframe of having an operational manufacturing plant to the ongoing government to government talks.
The manufacturing of F-16 aircraft in India will also be conditional to Indian government’s contractual commitment to purchase the aircraft for its armed forces.
Lockheed Martin in 2011 had provided six C-130J Super Hercules transport to India, one of which crashed near the Indian city of Gwalior in March 2014. The deal was also the first major military contract between India and US in more than 40 years.
The company also maintains a strong presence in India, and employs more than 1,000 people. Lockheed Martin and Tata Advanced Systems have formed a joint venture company in India, Tata Lockheed Martin Aerostructures, for manufacturing of airframe components for the C-130J.
A ‘disappointed’ India had summoned United States envoy in New Delhi, Richard Verma, over Obama administration’s decision to sell eight Lockheed Martin F-16 fighter jets to Pakistan, along with training, radar and other equipment, in a deal worth $699 million.
Read more: Pakistan ‘surprised’ over Indian reaction to US F-16 sale
The Obama administration had notified the Congress that it planned to sell eight F-16 fighter jets to Pakistan, with a State Department spokesman saying that US weapon sales to Pakistan contributed to the fight against terrorism and furthered America’s foreign policy interests.
F-16 aircraft are operated by at least 26 countries across the world and manufacturing facilities for the aircraft exist in Netherlands, Belgium, Turkey, and South Korea, outside of the US.