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India Continues to be Biggest Defence Buyer: Lockheed Martin Offers F-21 Fighters to India Exclusively

Author : Odisha Today Bureau | Posted on: 2019-05-14

United States-based aerospace company Lockheed Martin on Monday said that it will not sell its newly launched F-21 fighter jets to any other government if India orders 114 aircraft, an offer aimed at pitching itself ahead of its US, European and Russian competitors for the mega-deal. The company seeks to give itself an edge against its competitors from the United States, Europe and Russia.


The firm’s strategy and business development vice president, Vivek Lall, told media that the latest model of the fighter jet has the capacity to operate across over 60 air force stations in India. Lall said the main features of the aircraft include superior engine matrix, electronic warfare system and weapons carrying capacity.


"We will not sell this platform and the configuration to anyone in the world. It is a significant commitment by Lockheed Martin and it shows importance of India and importance of unique requirement India has," he said.


The development follows the Indian Air Force’s tender to acquire 114 jets for around $18 billion, which has been described as one of the world’s largest military procurements.


Without giving any approximate price of each bare-bone aircraft, he pitched it as the most cost effective compared to the competitors in terms of life-cycle and operational costs.


"If you look at the US government data, the advantage is 30-40 per cent in terms of cost effectiveness. This is lower compared to the comparable competitors. If you aggregate with years and years of operations in the life cycle, it is a huge amount of saving for India if it goes ahead with F-21,”Lall said.


Major aircraft manufactured by Lockheed’s rivals include Boeing’s F/A-18, Dassault Aviation’s Rafale, the Eurofighter Typhoon, Russian aircraft MiG 35 and Saab’s Gripen.


The firm proposed to set up a state-of-the-art manufacturing facility in collaboration with the Tata group if the government gives it a contract. Lall said the deal will help India create an ecosystem for overall growth of the country’s defence manufacturing.


Lall further added that the F-21 has a traditional boom-delivered refueling facility as well as an extendable hose-and-drogue refuelling probe.


He said, “This is the only fighter in the world which has both the capability. It has a modern cockpit and a significant ability to synthesise information. These are unique capabilities that we are not offering to other countries in the world”.


Lockheed, which has a longstanding relationship of 25 years with India, unveiled the F-21 during the Aero India show in Bengaluru in February, saying it will address the Indian Air Force's unique requirements.


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