US defence and aerospace company Lockheed Martin has offered its newly rolled out F-21 fighter jets exclusively to India, Press Trust of India reported.
The defence giant will not sell the F-21’s to any other country if India places an order for 114 jets, with the move being used to pitch itself ahead of its US, European and Russian competitors.
Vivek Lall, the strategy and business development vice president at Lockheed Martin, said if his company wins the Indian Air Force (IAF) contract, India will be integrated into the company’s global fighter ecosystem, which is a $165 billion market.
“We will not sell this platform and the configuration to anyone in the world. It is a significant commitment by Lockheed Martin and it shows the importance of India and importance of unique requirement India has,” Lall said while speaking to Press Trust of India.
Lall further stated if Lockheed Martin wins the contract, they will set up an F-21 manufacturing facility in India along with the Tata Group, and also help the country create an economy to boost their defence manufacturing.
In April, the IAF issued an initial tender to acquire the 114 fighter jets for around $18 billion, a deal which can be described one of the world’s biggest military procurement in recent years.
The F-21 is different from Lockheed’s F-16 Block 70 in terms of airframe, weapons capability and engine matrix.
“As for example, you are now looking at 12,000 hours of service life airframe in F-21 versus 8,000 hours previously (F-16 Block 70). The additional 40 per cent weapons carrying capability is new in F-21 which was not there in F-16 Block 70. The electronic warfare system is uniquely developed for India. Looking from a distance may make it look similar to F-16 Block 70, but it is different,” Lall stated.
Advertised with the tag line “For India. From India,” the company has offered to build the plane in collaboration with India’s Tata Advanced Systems. For a contract that could amount to as much as $15 billion for the winner, Lockheed’s offering will go up against Boeing’s F/A-18E/F Super Hornet, the Gripen offered by Saab of Sweden, the Dassault Rafale, the Eurofighter Typhoon and an as yet unknown offering from Russia.