Bengaluru– Lockheed Martin is hosting a conference in this tech hub for industry suppliers on its flagship fighter F-16 with Tata Advanced Systems Ltd (TASL), said the American aerospace major on Tuesday.

“The four-day meet since Monday is discussing opportunities for the suppliers and prospective Indian partners on the F-16 programme, which has the world’s largest fighter aircraft ecosystem,” said Lockheed in a statement here.

The all-weather single-engine F-16 supersonic multirole fighter, developed originally for the US Air Force by General Dynamics, is in use by air forces in 25 countries the world over.

“The fighter jet offers opportunities for Indian firms and their suppliers’ new business with us, TASL and other industry leaders,” said Lockheed’s strategic and business development Vice-President Vivek Lall in a statement here.

If the fighter is produced in India, it offers the Indian aerospace industry a whopping $165-bilion jet aircraft sustainment market, claimed Lall.

“The conference has provided a platform for Indian industry players to explore opportunities with global suppliers in the F-16 manufacturing ecosystem.

Globally, F-16 industry leading partners include GE, Terma, Honeywell, Fokker, Israeli Aerospace Industries, Elbit, UTC, Terma, Eaton, Moog and Parker.

“The potential F-16 India Project, as a single source globally, will be strategic to build new capabilities in the local defence production. We look forward to participating in the selection process for the fighter programme of the Indian Air Force (IAF),” said Tata Advanced Systems Chief Executive Sukharan Singh at the conference.

As part of its commitment to India, Lockheed has partnered with TASL to produce the fighter’s (F-16) wings at the latter’s aerospace facility in Hyderabad.

“We have offered to produce F-16s in India for the IAF and export customers if the government selects the fighter’s Block 70 version for IAF and agrees to our partnership proposal,” reiterated Lall.

Lockheed’s initiative positions TASL to become the provider of wings for all future customers.

The F-16 block 70 version features advanced avionics, a proven Active Electronically Scanned Array (AESA) radar, a modernised cockpit, advanced weapons, conformal fuel tanks, an automatic ground collision avoidance system, an advanced engine and extended service life of 12,000 hours.

Though Lockheed sold a record 4,604 F-16s to 28 customers the worldwide over the years, about 3,000 of them are in operation with 25 air forces.

As a Tata Sons subsidiary, TASL provides integrated solutions for aerospace, defence and homeland security. (IANS)

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