Lockheed Martin, the American defense major has unveiled the F-21 multi-role fighter aircraft which it aims to manufacture locally in collaboration with Tata Advanced Systems Limited. F-21, a variant of F-16 is designed with India specific requirements and it will address the requirements of the Indian Air Force and integrate the country in the world’s largest fighter aircraft ecosystem. “The F-21 is different, inside and out,” said Dr Vivek Lall, vice president of Strategy and Business Development for Lockheed Martin Aeronautics. “The new [F-21] designation highlights our commitment to delivering an advanced, scalable fighter aircraft to the Indian Air Force that also provides unrivaled industrial opportunities and accelerates closer India-US cooperation on advanced technologies,” added Lall.
Lockheed Martin is the largest defense contractor in the world. The company’s total revenue for 2017 was 43.5 billion with 92 percent coming from defense. This is almost double that of BAE systems, the second largest defense contractor in the world. F-16s by Lockheed Martin are one of the best fighter aircrafts in the world. The company is one of the major competitors in the 114 multi-role aircraft deal of the Indian Air Force. Its competitors are Boeing F/A-18E and F/A-18F Super Hornet (United States), Gripen-E (Sweden), MiG-35 (Russia), Eurofighter Typhoon and Rafale and Sukhoi-35 (Russia).
Previously, American defense major, Lockheed Martin has announced to manufacture thewings of the F-16 aircraft with Tata Advanced Systems Limited in India. This would give a major boost to Prime Minister’s Make in India initiative. Last year, Lockheed Martin and TASL announced their intent to join hands to produce the F-16 Block 70 in India if the aircraft is selected by the Indian Air Force. The F-16 Block 70 features advanced avionics, proven Active Electronically Scanned Array (AESA) radar, a modernized cockpit, advanced weapons, conformal fuel tanks, an automatic ground collision avoidance system, an advanced engine and an industry-leading extended structural service life of 12,000 hours.
Lockheed Martin has said that India would be a major beneficiary if it chooses F-16 for fighter aircraft deal. The company would move its assembly line to India from the United States to support Modi government’s Make in India initiative in the defence sector. “If India buys the F-16 then it becomes the centre of manufacturing for the global market. Choosing Lockheed’s warplane would integrate India into a global F-16 supply chain worth $165 billion”, said Lall. F-16 is one of the most popular combat aircraft in the world. 4,604 F-16s air-crafts have been procured by 28 countries around the world. 3,000 operational F-16s are operational in 25 air forces including the mighty US Air force.
The purchase of 114 MMRCA would prepare India for a two front war with China and Pakistan. A few months back, Army Chief General Bipin Rawat had said that India should be prepared for a two front war. The gradual mingling of China and Pakistan could lead to a breakout of wars on two fronts with our northern and western neighbours. The development of the China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) and magnitude of Chinese loans to the debt-ridden country suggest that Pakistan is on its way to becoming a colony of China’s. So, for all practical purposes the interests of Pakistan will be the interests of China in the upcoming years.