REVEALED: Lockheed-Martin’s 3-Point F-16 Pitch To India

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A significant jump in life after a service life extension of the F-16 Block 70 platform. Total Indian autonomy on who can buy made-in-India F-16s or be part of the resulting supply chain that will be governed entirely by India. A choice of avionics and kit currently under test on the F-35 family of fifth generation fighters. These are the three broad pitch points Lockheed-Martin puts forth as it looks to win India’s next big fighter contest — the Make In India Fighter (MIIF, unofficially). Lockheed-Martin, which had one of the most visible campaigns for India’s erstwhile M-MRCA contest, has clearly re-energised itself for what is, by all accounts, a much more significant piece of Indian pie this time, a contest reported first here on Livefist. As the world’s largest defence firm primes itself for a face-off against what could be a much smaller line-up than the six-horse M-MRCA, Livefist puts some questions to Abhay Paranjape, National Executive for Lockheed Martin Aeronautics Business Development in India:

1. Outline the major contours of L-M’s Make in India (MII) F-16 Block 70 offer.
Lockheed Martin is offering India the exclusive opportunity to produce, operate and export F-16 Block 70 aircraft. Exclusive F-16 production in India would make India home to the world’s only F-16 production facility, a leading exporter of advanced fighter aircraft, and offer Indian industry the opportunity to become an integral part of the world’s largest fighter aircraft supply chain.

2. How does the current programme differ qualitatively from the M-MRCA programme, which also envisaged a major MII component?
Leveraging technologies from our 5th Generation fleet of aircraft, the F-16 Block 70 aircraft is the most technologically advanced F-16 ever offered. These advances include the APG-83 Active Electronically Scanned Array radar, a new high resolution center pedestal display, a new mission computer significantly enhancing processing and storage capacity, and a new 1 gigabit Ethernet databus. Further leveraging recent structural life extension efforts performed for the U.S. Air Force, the F-16 Block 70 will deliver a 50 percent or more increase in additional service life to 12,000 hours or beyond – a significant increase over competing aircraft. From an industrial program perspective, Lockheed Martin’s offer to move all future F-16 production to India is unprecedented, as it would place Indian industry at the center of the world’s most extensive fighter aircraft supply base. None of our competitors can offer that.

3. How does L-M address concerns that the F-16, albeit upgraded, is a legacy fighter at the end of its active life?
cwjluiewyaiblwaThe F-16 is the most combat proven aircraft in history and the F-16 Block 70 is the most technologically advanced F-16 ever offered. The updated avionics suite leverages technologies developed as a part of Lockheed Martin’s efforts on our fleet of 5th Generation fighter aircraft. Major elements of these advanced avionics are included in major upgrades for multiple F-16 customers around the world and already slated for integration on more than 300 aircraft that will be flown for decades. These elements will also form the basis for upgrades and aircraft life extension for U.S. Air Force F-16 aircraft as they seek to operate their fleet for 30-plus years into the future. Global demand for new production F-16 aircraft also remains strong in the Middle East, Eastern Europe, Southeast Asia, and South America.

4. If the Indian government presses a single-engine stipulation, the F-16 could square off against the Gripen NG. What’s your pitch on how the F-16 Block 70 over the Gripen NG?
Lockheed Martin is the recognized leader in the design, development and manufacture of the world’s most technologically advanced fighter aircraft. The F-16 Block 70 aircraft leverages avionics technologies from our 5th Generation fighter aircraft to deliver an aircraft with unrivaled speed, agility, range, and payload. We offer proven, unmatched experience developing international fighter production capacity having previously established F-16 production lines in four countries and F-35 production lines in two countries. Our offer to establish exclusive F-16 production in India to meet worldwide demand for new F-16 aircraft is without precedent and the opportunity for Indian companies to play a major role in the industrial base that supplies necessary parts for a global fleet of more than 3,200 aircraft is unmatched.

5. Pakistan operates F-16s and looks to operate more. Would the future of Pakistan’s fleet be in Indian hands in the event of a successful MII F-16 programme?
As has always been the case, future F-16 production decisions would be subject to government-to-government discussions.

6. Sweden’s Saab has sweetened its Gripen pitch to India by offering Gallium-Nitride (GaN) radar technology as a spin-off. How does Lockheed-Martin propose to beef up its offering?
Lockheed Martin’s F-16 offer to India—the exclusive opportunity to produce, operate and export F-16 Block 70 aircraft—is without precedent. In addition to proposing the most technologically advanced F-16 ever offered to the Indian Air Force, exclusive F-16 production in India extends this Make in India opportunity beyond mere “assemble in India” or “manufacture in India,” to a long-term industrial opportunity for India. Our experience developing fighter production capacity around the world is unmatched. Lockheed Martin has previously established F-16 production lines in four countries and F-35 production lines in two countries. Our F-16 offer also includes the unmatched opportunity for Indian companies to play a major role in the industrial base that supplies parts for a global fleet of more than 3,200 aircraft. The long-term effect of establishing the sole F-16 production line in India will be to position Indian industry as a major contributor in the production of components and sub-components necessary to support the growing worldwide F-16 fleet.

10 thoughts on “REVEALED: Lockheed-Martin’s 3-Point F-16 Pitch To India”

  1. This F-16 offer proclamation of India being the F-16 manufacturer is a mirage. Turkey has its own production facility and so do many nations. Moreover, the F-16s are being phased out and the largest operator of F-16s is the USAF and they already have stockpiled their own spare parts since they are planning to phase the F-16s out in favor of the F-35s. In fact most western nations are following suit. The only market for such spares would be lower rung nations who cannot afford the F-35s and they may not go for the F-16s. This market that they profess about is a declining market and on the way out. in fact the only market would be India itself and India would handicap itself for decades by being forced to use a 70s era legacy fighter to fight 21st century battles. If India has to go for a foreign single engine fighter, Gripen is the far better choice. India can make an agreement with GE to supply the engines and agreement with Thales or Swedish Saab to supply the avionics.

    I would prefer that India concentrate on its LCA program. There is no reason to abandon the LCA program. For the kind of money that India is willing to sink in the single engine fighter, India could make the LCA a world class fighter capable of standing toe to toe with 4th and 4.5 generation fighters.

  2. Wht if India chooses F16 and then US offers F35 to pakistan as govt to govt free power balance deal….dont trust US is what I say…only buy the best…dont fall for f16

  3. Consider for a moment the following facts:
    Only about 30% of the total value of the F-16 is made by Lockheed. The powerplant is GE, the radar and targeting pods by Northrup, avionics and weapons systems mostly by Raytheon. So by offering to move the assembly plant to India, LM will only be transferring at best 30% of the value of the F-16 to India and that will be the lowest tech aspect that involves manufacturing the aero-structures which is of 1970s vintage. Great if you are Lockheed, not so if you are on the other side of the deal !

    In other words Lockheed will get rid of a factory that would have to be junked otherwise at great expense to LM and India gets literally junk for $ 15B !

  4. Why an airframe which is 40 years old ?

    Why not collaborate with Lockheed Martin to develop specific technologies like AESA radar for the Tejas platform and for the same the BHRAMOS model can be repeated which has worked very well for India

  5. If Lockheed does not transfer the manufacturing line to India from Texas , then they will have to shut it down with dwindling orders . Lockheed Martin wants to generate revenue by transferring the line to India , it suits them but not necessarily India . We do not need a manufacturing line for a single engine fighter like F-16. WE HAVE DEVELOPED Tejas and we need technology collaborations for systems like AESA radar , powerful thrust vectoring engine . Infact private industrial house like the Tatas , Godrej and ADAG should be encouraged to set up a production line for Tejas so that both HAL and the private industrial house together can deliver upto 40 Tejas aircrafts per year.

  6. Very disappointed with some his answers…instead of talking specifics e.g. about radar tech on offer…he keeps repeating blah blah blah….I will not be surprised if this plane again gets a boot.

  7. “This is the most advanced plane ever offered to India !!!!????” What is really a meaning of that statement? Does he think we are all that stupid?

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