Lockheed Martin pitches F-16 Falcon fighter in new avatar for Indian order
By Bhavana Akella
With the competition for an IAF order of 110 combat jets hotting up, US aerospace major Lockheed Martin has presented its single-engine supersonic multirole F-16 Falcon in the new avatar of what it says "tailored" for India F-21 fighter.
"The F-21 distinguishes from the F-16 Falcon with a refuelling probe, which enables air-to-air transfer of fuel, fuselage with additional space for indigenous systems and a triple-range launcher to hold three missiles under each wing," a Lockheed Martin spokesman told IANS on the margins of the Aero India expo at the IAF's Yelahanka air base.
The F-16 is flown by the US Air Force, Israel, Iraq and Pakistan, among other countries the world over.
"The new fighter has modifications in and out. Its cockpit provides with a large display of navigation aids for the pilots," said the spokesman on the differences between the F-16 and F-21.
The defence major on Wednesday also offered to make F-21 in India as an advanced, scalable fighter for the Indian Air Force (IAF) if it secures the order.
"The combat jet can be tailored to IAF's requirements," the spokesman said.
India had issued a request for information from global defence and aerospace majors in 2018 to procure 110 fighters - with 16 in flyaway condition and the remaining to be made in India with a local partner.
Global aerospace majors Boeing, Dassault Aviation, Eurofighter, Saab and Russian United Aircraft Corporation will be competing with Lockheed Martin for the fighter order after India floats the request for proposal (RFP).
"India has not yet issued a formal requirement via a request for proposals (RFP). When India releases its RFP, we will respond to it with the F-21," Vivek Lall, Lockheed Martin's Vice President for Business and Strategy Development, told IANS.
The company offered to manufacture the aircraft under the 'Make in India' initiative along with Tata Advanced Systems of the Tata Group if it bags the deal.
"The F-21 outclasses the competition across the board. No other competing fighter comes close to matching the F-21's capabilities or the industrial and economic opportunities its partnership can deliver to India," Lall asserted.
While Lall did not share more details of the F-21 proposal as it was "competition-sensitive", the fighter provides growth capacity, lethality, survivability and modernisation that the IAF requires, he said.-IANS