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Lockheed Martin announced on 4 September that its strategic industry partner in India, Tata Advanced Systems (TASL), will become the manufacturer of F-16 wings for all future customers of the aircraft.

This strategic initiative strengthens Lockheed Martin’s partnership with the Indian firm and supports the government’s ‘Make in India’ programme. The planned F-16 wing production move to India is not contingent on the government’s selection of the F-16 for the Indian Air Force (IAF).

Lockheed Martin’s broader proposed F-16 partnership with India—to produce F-16s exclusively in India for domestic and export customers—stands firm. The two companies announced last year their intention to partner to produce the F-16 Block 70 in India if the aircraft is selected by the IAF and Lockheed Martin recently submitted a comprehensive, fully compliant 600-plus page Request for Information response to the service.

The F-16 Block 70 features advanced avionics, a proven active electronically scanned array (AESA) radar, a modernised 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 flight hours.

To date, 4,604 F-16s have been procured by 28 customers around the world, of which some 3,000 operational aircraft are flying today with 25 leading air forces.

“Building F-16 wings in India is a natural next step that builds on our successful partnerships with Tata on the C-130J [airlifter] and S-92 [helicopter],” explained Vice President of Strategy and Business Development for Lockheed Martin Aeronautics, Vivek Lall. “This is a strategic business decision that reflects the value of our partnerships with India and the confidence we have in Tata to perform advanced defence manufacturing work and deliver world-class products.”

 

Whether or not the IAF selects the F-16 Block 70, all wings for the F-16 aircraft will henceforth be manufactured in India. (Image: Lockheed Martin)

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