Lockheed raises pitch for F-16s

Lockheed Martin chief Marillyn Hewson met Finance Minister Arun Jaitley on Wednesday. Ms. Hewson is the chairman, president and chief executive officer (CEO) of the military aerospace giant that makes the F-16 fighter jets.

8th Jul 2016


Lockheed raises pitch for F-16s

Lockheed Martin chief Marillyn Hewson met Finance Minister Arun Jaitley on Wednesday. Ms. Hewson is the chairman, president and chief executive officer (CEO) of the military aerospace giant that makes the F-16 fighter jets.

The meeting comes in the backdrop of the U.S. push to sell F-16 jets to India and their manufacture in the country with technology transfer.

Sources told The Hindu that a three-member team from Lockheed, including Ms. Hewson, met Mr. Jaitley in his office for 20 minutes.

As reported by The Hindu earlier, the proposal for shifting the F-16 assembly line to India was discussed when Prime Minister Narendra Modi visited the U.S. last month.

Crucial visit

Underscoring the importance of Ms. Hewson’s visit were hoardings welcoming her put up across central Delhi by the Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry and others, not a common practice for a company head.

While negotiations with France have been dragging on for the direct purchase of 36 Rafale fighter jets, Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar had said India would select another fighter by the year-end to replace the MiG-21 jets. In anticipation of a fresh contest, Lockheed with F-16, Boeing with F-18 and SAAB with Gripen have pitched in their aircraft along with offers of significant technology transfer and setting up assembly lines in India under the Make in India initiative.

While F-16 is a modern fourth-generation multi-role fighter, the jet has been in service for over four decades, something that needs to be factored in by India as any fighter jet selected will be the mainstay of the Indian Air Force for another four decades.

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