‘Made in India’ F-16s on radar, thanks to FDI

Another official confirmed that talks were on with Lockheed Martin for the F-16 assembly line in India. In an interview to The Hindu last month, Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar had indicated that India was looking at getting a foreign military firm to manufacture its fighter in India.

Need partners: Parrikar

“I am not looking for assembly at all. I am looking for a company to join with an Indian partner and to start manufacturing here by Transfer of Technology (ToT) in most of the items. I know that 100 per cent ToT may not be possible and 100 per cent indigenisation is not possible. Even with so many efforts, LCA has only around 40 per cent indigenisation,” Mr. Parrikar had said.

Several foreign defence firms have been expressing their willingness to set up assembly lines in India, among them the Eurofighter consortium and Sweden’s Gripen.

Both Lockheed Martin and Boeing from the U.S. in April held discussions in New Delhi in the presence of Pentagon’s Director for International Cooperation Keith Webster about the possibility of producing their jets in India. While Lockheed has proposed F-16s, Boeing has offered to make F/A-18s in India.

Based on ongoing discussions, sources said the opportunity to open an assembly line in India could ultimately go to Lockheed Martin, that too for a fighter that is going out of production.

The company is believed to have orders only for a few more months, with the U.S. military, F-16’s biggest customer, moving to more advanced fighters and foreign orders drying up.