Mark Collins – Future F-16s Built in India, Including for Export?

LockMart sure is trying hard to keep the fighter in production–and to keep making profits. At the Viper’s home town paper in Texas:

Lockheed Martin may shift F-16 production to India

With production winding down after 40 years in Fort Worth, Lockheed Martin is considering a plan to move assembly of future F-16 fighter jets to India — if that country places a big order for the planes.

The defense giant has offered India exclusive rights to produce and export F-16s, said Ken Ross, a spokesman for Lockheed Martin Aeronautics in Fort Worth [the latest version: “F-16V (Viper) Fighting Falcon Multi-role Fighter, United States of America”].

“We are in discussions with the U.S. government, the government of India, and our Indian industry partners about this opportunity,” Ross said. “Details about this potential partnership will be determined in conjunction with the respective governments, Lockheed Martin, and Indian industry.”

Lockheed acknowledged in February that the company had offered to build F-16s in India last year at a meeting between Lockheed’s CEO Marillyn Hewson and Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi. India is looking to replace many of its air force’s 650 planes and wants to turn itself into a hub for defense manufacturing [from 2015: “Not That Easy: PM Modi Tries to Motivate Indian Defence Industry“].

Work on the F-16, which has been built since the 1970s, has been winding down in Fort Worth as the program matured and attention turned to building the next-generation F-35. Several hundred workers continue to build about one F-16 a month for Iraq at the Fort Worth plant, with orders in place to last through October 2017. Over the life of the program, Lockheed has delivered more than 4,500 F-16s.

Ross said that as F-16 manufacturing is completed in Fort Worth, “we anticipate F-16 mechanics transitioning from the F-16 production line to the F-35 production line to support increased F-35 production rates. Other F-16 personnel will have opportunities to transition to one of the F-16 modification programs.”..

More on India’s fraught fighter acquisitions, note “Comments”:

“Absurd”: Continuing India/France Rafale Fighter Buy Balls-Up, Part 2 (plus Gripen)

Mark Collins, a prolific Ottawa blogger, is a Fellow at the Canadian Global Affairs Institute; he tweets @Mark3Ds

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