Won't sell F-21s to anyone except India: Lockheed Martin
US company Lockheed Martin, which leads the aerospace industry, has offered a new deal to India. The company has said it will not sell newly-rolled F-21 jets to any other country if India decides to purchase 114 planes. Lockheed Martin hopes to get an upper hand as compared to its Russian, US, and European competitors with this deal. Here's more on this.
The offer was floated by Vivek Lall, Vice President of Strategy and Business Development for Lockheed Martin. Lall told PTI that the new jets can operate across 60+ air stations in India. The jets have a superior engine matrix, electronic warfare system, and weapons carrying capacity. He said Lockheed understands India's unique requirement and this offer shows how important India is to the company.
The offer came after India issued an RFI (Request for Information) or initial tender. The IAF said it has to purchase 114 jets at a cost of $18 billion. The top contenders for this deal, which qualifies as the biggest aviation deal in recent years, are Lockheed's F-21, Boeing's F/A-18, Dassault Aviation's Rafale, the Eurofighter Typhoon, Russian aircraft MiG-35 and Saab's Gripen.
Listing out reasons as to why India should lock the deal, Lall said his company will help in the growth of the country's defense manufacturing. Lockheed plans to set up a state-of-art manufacturing facility with the Tata group as well. The deal will help India become a part of Lockheed's global fighter ecosystem, which is a $165 billion dollar market, Lall underlined.
Lall explained that F-21s may look like F-16 Block 70 from a distance, but both jets are entirely different. Along with a traditional boom-delivered refueling facility, F-21s also have an extendable hose-and-drogue refueling probe. The cockpit also has a larger area of display. Lall added F-21s have 12,000 hours of service life air and have an additional 40 percent weapons carrying capability.
"It is a modern cockpit and has significant piece of ability to synthesize information. These are unique capabilities that we are not offering to other countries in the world," Lall added. A Long-Range Infrared Search and Track (IRST) will allow pilots detect threats with precision.
Notably, Lall didn't reveal the price of the aircraft but added the deal isn't bad. "If you look at the US government data, the advantage is 30-40 percent in terms of cost-effectiveness. If you aggregate with years and years of operations in the life cycle, it is a huge amount of saving for India if it goes ahead with F-21," he went on.
Lockheed Martin has a longstanding relationship of 25 years with India and Lall said the company wants to expand its ties. Notably, the F-21 jet was unveiled during the Aero India show in Bengaluru in February. In June 2016, US called India a "Major Defense Partner" laying the foundation for better and technologically advanced deals. Meanwhile, India wants to procure jets considering security risks.