February 15, 2016

Amid Pakistan row, India considers proposal to manufacture F-16 fighter jets under ‘Make in India’

Even as controversy has erupted on the transfer of eight F 16s to Pakistan by the US, Delhi has been considering a proposal to manufacture the fighter jets under the ‘Make in India’ initiative. In several recent meetings, including a high-level interaction in November last year in Washington, the aircraft have been offered for local production – both to meet Indian requirements and for exports.
The Lockheed Martin (LM) manufactured F 16 is one of the several fighters that has been proposed to be manufactured in India and is being actively pushed by Washington, senior officials told ET. It is also understood that LM had even raised the possibility of local manufacture during the meeting of one of its top executives with Prime Minister Narendra Modi last year.
India has showed its displeasure at the recent decision by Washington to transfer eight of the Block 52 variants of the fighter to Pakistan. It is still unclear on what impact this would have on proposals to manufacture US origin jets in India – defence giant Boeing has also shown keen interest in building F/A 18 Super Hornet fighters under the Make in Indiaplan.
The offer to make the F 16 in India was for a more advanced variant of the fighter that is being sold to Pakistan and was termed as the F 16 IN Super Viper. The aircraft was in contention of the now scrapped medium multirole combat aircraft contract for the Indian air force but was disqualified on technical grounds.
Besides the F/A 18 Super Hornet and the F 16IN Super Viper, the Indian government is considering at least two more proposals to make fighter jets in India. One offer on the table is from Sweden’s SAAB to transfer the Gripen fighter line to India. Another is a proposal by Airbus to create a ‘Eurofighter City’ in India that would produce its Eurofighter jet and generate thousands of jobs.


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