Lockheed-Martin plans to respond to the Indian Navy’s recent RFI for a new generation carrier-based figher with two parallel dockets on the STOVL F-35B and the carrier variant F-35C. While it was initially thought that the F-35B would be the variant offered (since it appeared a logical replacement for India’s Sea Harrier jump jets), Lockeed-Martin Biz Development (India) VP Orville Prins told me and a few other journalists today that Lockheed-Martin is conducting simulation and analysis studies to support the team’s supposition that the F-35C — built for a steam catapult launch off aircraft carriers — is also capable of short take-offs from ski-jumps. The simulation and analysis will take into account various stress and strain parameters. The RFI to Lockheed-Martin simply requested information on the F-35 as a potential future carrier-based asset for the Indian Navy, and did not specify a variant. While LM has provided the Navy with programme-level briefings it will shortly begin a round of technical briefings on both the F-35 variants it plans to offer.
Prins cannot ever resist a swipe at the Saab folks. Asked about the other potential contenders in the Indian Navy fighter competition, he scoffed, “The Sea Gripen? What are they talking about? That’s a paper plane.”