India wants to improve both its defense fleet and its manufacturing workforce, and Lockheed Martin thinks it has the necessary fix.
In September, Lockheed Martin offered to build its F-16 fighter jet in India and then supply those aircraft to the nation, according to Phil Shaw, CEO of Lockheed’s Indian operations. Shaw, who made the declaration Thursday in an interview with Bloomberg Business, said the U.S. and Indian governments are currently in talks to get a deal done.
India has been attempting to boost its manufacturing sector for quite some time. In 2014, the nation’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi launched ‘Made in India,’ a program dedicated to making the nation a leader in global design and manufacturing. One form of manufacturing Modi would like India to improve upon is its defense manufacturing. Currently, India imports more weapons than any other nation.
While manufacturing is one pressing issue for India, its military aircraft is another. According to Bloomberg, a third of the 650 planes used by the nation’s air force are over 40 years old. Reuters reported in October 2015 that India’s air force was at its weakest state since the Indo-China war in 1962.
Lockheed Martin doesn’t yet know what Indian Air Force needs in terms of jets. Not knowing those details is tough on Lockheed Martin, since it then doesn’t know how many jets it might need to make and sell, explained Randall Howard, head of F-16 business development at Lockheed Martin, according to Bloomberg.
Indian Defense Ministry spokesman Nitin Wakankar didn’t respond to Bloomberg’s request for comment.
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