US, Indian Governments Talking On Making F-16 In India: Lockheed
BENGALURU, (PTI): American defence major Lockheed Martin on Thursday said discussions are currently taking place between the US and Indian governments on the company’s plans to set up manufacturing base for F-16 fighter jets in India.
“The conversation has progressed to the point that we are deferring at this point to the government-to-government conversation. And that conversation is ongoing,” a top company official told reporters at Aero India 2017 air show in Bengaluru.
The comments from Randy Howard, Lockheed Martin Aeronautics, Integrated Fighter, Director, Business Development, came when asked about its move to push ahead with its plan to move production of its F-16 to India, but that the Trump Administration is taking a “fresh look” at its proposal.
“We had really very strong support up to this point. We are deferring those questions and concerns over to governments who are having an ongoing conversation. The discussions have progressed to the point that the requirements need to be more fully articulated…,” he said.
“There are a number of internal discussions going on here in India on strategic partners. Discussions between the two governments at this point. We will wait to hear from the two governments and Lockheed Martin is fully supportive of those decisions,” he said.
Lockheed had said recently 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.
Mr Trump has flayed US firms for having moved manufacturing overseas and then sell their products back to the US and asked them to produce in the US itself. Lockheed, however, does not plan to sell back F-16 in the US which has not placed fresh orders for it.
In August last, 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 has made it clear the proposal is “conditional” to Indian Air Force choosing the world’s 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,” a Lockheed Martin official had said recently.