Lockheed Martin, the renowned American aerospace giant, has unveiled plans to conduct a suppliers’ meet in India alongside Tata, presenting unprecedented opportunities for Indian businesses to forge relationships with the F-16 fighter jets’ manufacturer and other key industry players. This initiative is part of Lockheed Martin’s broader proposal to collaborate with India in manufacturing F-16s within the country, catering to the Indian Air Force and global export customers.
Having announced their intent to join forces last year, Lockheed Martin and Tata Advanced Systems Limited are exploring the production of the F-16 Block 70 in India, pending selection by the Indian Air Force. Recently, the companies formalized an agreement for Tata Advanced Systems Limited to produce the wings of Lockheed Martin’s F-16 fighter jets.
The suppliers’ meet, taking place in Bangalore, gathers current F-16 suppliers and potential Indian industry partners to discuss opportunities within the world’s largest fighter aircraft ecosystem. Notable attendees include GE, Terma, Honeywell, Fokker, Israeli Aerospace Industries, Elbit, UTC, Terma, Eaton, Moog, Parker, and other global leaders in the defense industry.
Vivek Lall, Vice President of Strategy and Business Development for Lockheed Martin Aeronautics, emphasized, “The F-16 provides unmatched opportunities for Indian companies of all sizes, including Micro, Small, and Medium Enterprises, and suppliers throughout India to establish new business relationships with Lockheed Martin, Tata, and other US and global industry leaders.” He highlighted that exclusive F-16 production would integrate Indian industry into a $165 billion fighter aircraft sustainment market.
The suppliers’ conference serves as a platform for Indian industry players to explore opportunities and share knowledge within the F-16 fighter aircraft manufacturing ecosystem globally, according to Sukaran Singh, CEO and Managing Director of Tata Advanced Systems. Singh expressed optimism about the strategic significance of the potential F-16 India Project, particularly in enhancing capabilities within India’s defense manufacturing sector.
The F-16 Block 70 boasts advanced avionics, a proven Active Electronically Scanned Array (AESA) radar, a modernized cockpit, advanced weapons, conformal fuel tanks, an automatic ground collision avoidance system, an advanced engine, and an industry-leading extended structural service life of 12,000 hours.
With a total of 4,604 F-16s procured by 28 customers worldwide and approximately 3,000 operational F-16s currently flying with 25 leading air forces, Lockheed Martin has offered to relocate its entire F-16 manufacturing base to India. India is yet to make a decision on this proposal, while the production of F-16 wings in India aligns with Lockheed Martin’s commitment to Tata Advanced Systems Limited and supports the ‘Make in India’ initiative of the Indian government.