American firm Lockheed Martin has teamed up with India's Tata Advanced Systems Limited (TASL) to produce the wings for all future orders of F-16 fighter jets in India.
Lockheed officials have insisted that the planned manufacturing of the F-16 wings in India is not contingent on India selecting the F-16 for the air force.
"Building F-16 wings in India is a natural next step that builds on our successful partnerships with Tata on the C-130J [Super Hercules airlifter] and S-92 [helicopter]," Vivek Lall, vice president of Strategy and Business Development for Lockheed Martin Aeronautics said, as quoted by PTI.
Had a good meeting with Lockheed Martin’s Executive VP Richard (Rick) Edwards & other senior leaders— KTR (@KTRTRS) September 4, 2018
They shared the good news of an agreement to produce F-16 wings in their Hyderabad facility in partnership with Tata Advanced Systems Limited 😊 pic.twitter.com/EYl78fsUjM
Earlier this year, a Maryland based firm had signed an initial contract worth $1.2 billion for 16 units of the F-16 Block 70 for the Royal Bahraini Air Force. The order is expected to provide a cushion to the American firm to keep open its production line for the next three to five years.
"Lockheed is reportedly hopeful (about) selling 200 more, but — by the time TASL starts production and then fulfills the requirement of the Indian Air Force, the order pipeline would've completely dried up. From a light fighter, the F-16 has now become a medium fighter, limiting the scope for upgrades," Vijainder K Thakur, a defense analyst, and retired air force squadron leader said.
Earlier this year, Rick Groesch, regional vice president of international business development at Lockheed Martin Aeronautics had stressed that Lockheed sees multiple opportunities, with demand from approximately 200 aircraft originating in Central Europe, the Mediterranean, Southeast Asia, and South America.