Lockheed awaits US nod to offer India F-35 aircraft

Lockheed awaits US nod to offer India F-35 aircraft

However, the approval of the Senate might mean little to Lockheed, whose F-16 was rejected by India earlier, as the Ministry of Defence is in the final stages of completing the MMRCA deal, through which it wants to acquire 126 aircrafts.

Lockheed, according to reports from Paris and sources here, is said to have expressed its willingness to offer F-35 stealth fighter to India, a proposal which is mentioned in a draft of the Senate Bill.

Talking to Deccan Herald senior MoD officials said,  “We have moved ahead several stages in the process of accepting the bids.” They added that it would be unlikely that such an offer is entertained, given that Lockheed had not offered the same family of aircraft in its earlier proposal and two firms –– Dassault Rafale and European Eurofighter –– are already shortlisted.

However outside of this deal, India has already inked an understanding with Russia to co-develop a fifth generation fighter, the process of designing which has already begun with a team of Russians training HAL personnel –– leaving little scope for another fifth generation fighter in F-35.

The F-35 is designed to excel in both air-to-ground and air-to-air operations. The US has been very keen in bagging the deal and the Senate bill that figures the F-35 proposal is being prepared aimed at intensifying defence co-operation between the two nations.
“There will be no heeding to pressure from any country or party in defence procurement,” MoD sources maintained.

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