New Delhi: US aerospace giant Lockheed Martin has expressed its willingness to help India in its multi-billion-dollar programme to develop the generation advanced multi-role combat aircraft and boost capability of the Tejas fighter jet. The offer from the US firm comes ahead of US President Donald Trump’s maiden visit to India on February 24-25 during which a number of defence deals are expected to be signed.
Lockheed Martin very open to assisting India develop Tejas
Vivek Lall, vice president of Strategy and Business Development for Lockheed Martin, said, “We are very open to any requirement from the government of India or the Indian Air Force for any help for the Tejas as well as the AMCA (advanced multi-role combat aircraft) project.”
Tejas has been developed indigenously by state-run Hindustan Aeronautics Ltd (HAL) and the Aeronautical Development Agency (ADA). Both HAL and ADA are now focusing on upgrading Tejas to make it a world-class plane.
‘Lockheed’s F-21 an attractive option for IAF’
Lall said that Lockheed Martin’s F-21 jet would make for an attractive option for the Indian Air Force (IAF) which is looking to procure a batch of 118 fighter planes. Choosing the American jet will link India to a USD 165 billion worth global aerospace eco-system, he added.
“Once you get a platform like the F21, that is just start of a very long-term relationship for future configurations that India desires, future platforms that India wants to develop,” he said.
Eyeing the US$ 18 billion order from the IAF, Lockheed Martin has offered its newly rolled out F-21 fighter to India and has even promised to set up a manufacturing facility in India if the company gets the contract. It has also said that it will not sell the jet to any other country if it wins the contract for the 114 jets.