US aerospace giant Lockheed Martin has congratulated the Indian defense establishment for carrying out a successful "arrest landing" of India's indigenously developed Light Combat Aircraft Tejas, saying that the company is looking forward to support the Indian Navy's LCA programme.
India carried out the successful "arrest landing" of Tejas last week in Goa, a major milestone in development of the naval variant of the jet. The test demonstrated the aircraft's ability to halt at a short distance after landing on board an aircraft carrier.
Vivek Lall, vice president of Strategy and Business Development at Lockheed Martin, in an interview to PTI congratulated the Indian Navy, Aeronautical Development Agency and Hindustan Aeronautics Limited, terming it as a "significant engineering feat" that should be celebrated.
“Lockheed Martin is fully committed to India and we look forward to supporting the LCA Navy programme if desired given our breadth and depth of expertise in that area,” he said.
Speaking about Lockheed Martin's pitch for the sale of F-21 fighter jets to India, he said it is the best best way to strengthen the defense ties between India and the US as such a trade deal would make India the “epicentre of USD 165 billion” global market.
“The F-21 would be a game-changing US and India win. An F-21 partnership with Lockheed Martin integrates Indian industry into the world's largest and most advanced fighter aircraft ecosystem,” Lall said.
He observed that India's presence into this robust fighter ecosystem via an F-21 selection would result in the country being at the "epicentre of a USD 165 billion market,” with possibilities to expand its footprint in developing indigenous capabilities and global supplier relationships.
Defense trade is expected to be one of the important topics of discussions during the meetings between Prime Minister Narendra Modi and President Donald Trump in Houston and New York later this month.
In April, the Indian Air Force issued an RFI (Request for Information) or initial tender to acquire 114 jets at a cost of around USD 18 billion, which is billed as one of the world's biggest military procurement in recent years.
The company unveiled F-21 multi-role fighter jet for India during the Aero India show in Bengaluru in February. It would be produced by Lockheed Martin and Tata Advanced Systems in India.
Asserting that F-21 is the best solution for the Indian Air Force and India's national security, he said it enables the IAF to go further, stay longer and deliver more ordnance per mission than any competing fighter.
The F-21 provides the optimal solution to meet India's force structure demands, in concert with fighter jets Rafale and Tejas, he said.
The official said that F-21 provides unmatched opportunities for Indian companies of all sizes to establish new business relationships with Lockheed Martin and other industry leaders in the US and around the world.
“F-21 production in India supports thousands of US supplier jobs, including hundreds of US-based Lockheed Martin engineering, program management, sustainment and customer support positions,” Lall, who is considered as one of the most influential US defense industry leaders in the last decade, said.