Lockheed, Boeing Offer Fighter Aircraft Manufacture In India As Rafale Negotiations Drag On
Lockheed Martin and Boeing have made elaborate presentations to the Indian Ministry of Defence (M0D) on manufacturing the F-16V and the F/A-18 aircraft respectively in India even as New Delhi’s negotiations with Paris to purchase 36 Dassault Rafale aircraft drag on.
Informed sources told that the presentations were made ahead of the visit of US Defence Secretary, Ashton Carter who is currently in India on a three-day visit. Other than company representatives, a couple of senior Pentagon officials dealing with defence products exports were also present.
Lockheed’s offer is the F-16V; the latest evolution of the aircraft equipped with an airborne electronic scanning array (AESA) radar and a host of other improvements in communications and fire control over the Block C/D version. Boeing’s F/A-18 aircraft too will see substantial improvement including AESA radar and other changes to match the F-16V and other competitors in the world.
Meanwhile, Jane’s reported that a fresh problem in the ongoing Indo-French negotiations over Rafale is the issue of offsets concerning electronics equipment manufacturer, Thales.
Indian Defense Ministry officials are believed to have rejected Thales’ offer of discharging portion of mandatory 50 percent offset requirement of the overall Rafale contract by helping India develop three ‘smart cities’, Janes reported quoting unnamed official sources as saying Sunday.
Thales provides equipment and systems – including avionics – that account for around a third of each Rafale’s total value.
IAF vice chief BS Dhanoa, on March 10, too had said that more MMRCA that just 36 Rafale jets will be needed and “other firms Lockheed Martin, Boeing and the Swedish firm Saab” have shared their proposals to the MoD .
Dhanoa admitted that the current strength of only 33 fighter squadrons in IAF, instead of the desired 42 was a concern and India was “not ready for a two front war,” namely with Pakistan and China together.