Donald Trump India visit: F-16 and F-35 fighter jet maker Lockheed Martin’s new offer to IAF for Tejas

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Updated: February 18, 2020 1:14:38 PM

India and the US have deepened their defence ties, especially since the time Donald Trump has assumed office. India was awarded the "Major Defence Partner" tag in 2016 which showed the rise of India’s stature as a strategic ally of the United States.

The American aerospace giant has also shared its willingness to cooperate with India to develop Indian-built Tejas into a much more effective fighter plane.

Ahead of the US President Donald Trump’s much-anticipated visit to India, Lockheed Martin has offered a helping hand to India in developing next-generation advanced aircraft equipped for multi-role combat, according to a PTI report. Lockheed Martin manufactures powerful fighter jets such as F-16s and F-35s. The American aerospace giant has also shared its willingness to cooperate with India to develop Indian-built Tejas into a much more effective fighter plane. The company is very open to requirements from the Narendra Modi government and Indian Air Force for the development of Advanced Multi-role Combat Aircraft (AMCA) and upgrading the indigenous Tejas into a superior fighter jet, the report quoted Lockheed Martin’s Vice President of Strategy and Business Development Vivek Lall as saying.

The Lockheed Martin executive has also pitched the idea for Indian Air Force to procure the company’s new product F-21 to meet their hunt for another over 100 fighter jets. He revealed the exclusivity of the deal Lockheed Martin has to offer for India to procure 114 F-21s. He said that the fighter jet will be manufactured for India only and the company will not be signing any treaty with other countries for F-21. This would be done in order to avoid technology overlap.

On the qualities of F-21 that Lockheed Martin believes make the fighter jet superior to its competitors such as Rafale, Eurofighter Typhoon, MiG 35 and Gripen, Lall said that the jet jas 40 per cent more offerings in weapons package with 138 configurations. He said that the F-21 has an extendable hose-and-drogue refuelling probe other than the traditional boom-delivered refuelling facility.

India and the US have deepened their defence ties, especially since the time Donald Trump has assumed office. India was awarded the “Major Defence Partner” tag in 2016 which showed the rise of India’s stature as a strategic ally of the United States. Donald Trump administration had renamed its oldest and largest military command- Pacific Command to Indo-Pacific command in 2018. The move was seen as a massive strategic gain for New Delhi and a counter approach to rising Chinese influence in the South China Sea by the United States.

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