18:30 GMT +314 December 2018
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    A sign at the new Lockheed Martin Manufacturing Centre of Excellence is seen at the company's headquarters in Ampthill near Bedford, Britain June 9, 2016.

    US Defense Giant Lockheed Martin Moving F-16 Wing Production to India

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    Lockheed Martin and India's TASL had earlier agreed to move the entire manufacturing base of the F-16 Block 70 to India in anticipation of a sizable order for the fighter jet by the Indian armed forces. However, with India stalling the purchase, the JV has now settled for manufacturing only the wings.

    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.

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    "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.

    The Indian firm Tata Advanced Systems is expected to take at least two years to demonstrate the manufacturing capability for the wings at a facility in Hyderabad. Presently, Lockheed Martin is struggling to keep its production line open in the absence of a major order for the single-engine supersonic multirole fighter aircraft.

    ​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.

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    "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.

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    Tags:
    wingsuit, fighter jet, manufacturing, production, Tata Group, Lockheed Martin, Indian Air Force, India
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