January 9, 2008 (by Lieven Dewitte) - Lockheed Martin, which is trying to sell its fighter aircraft F-16s to the Indian Air Force, on Wednesday announced opening of its India subsidiary that will market all its operating systems in the country.
USAF F-16C block 50 from the PACAF Demo Team with Maj. Jon "Shep" Plasterer at the controls climbs very sharply during a display. [Photo by Renee Miller]
Lockheed Martin India Pvt Ltd, a fully owned subsidiary of the Bethesda-based parent company, would have former diplomat Douglas A Hartwick as its Chief Executive, who had earlier served as Assistant US Trade Representative for South Asia, a company release said.
The US firm is pitted against major companies from Sweden, Russia and France, all of whom are expected to submit their proposals for the IAF's multi-role combat aircraft tender by March this year. IAF is looking to acquire 126 multi-role jet fighters. The US and Indian governments are expected to sign a contract by this March for the supply of six C-130J Hercules transport aircraft for the IAF, valued at about USD one billion, Hartwick's predecessor Royce Caplinger said recently.
Projecting his company's growth plans in India, he had said that Lockheed Martin was striving to establish its brand in India as "a reliable supplier for India's defence needs."
According to the Indian Times, Lockheed Martin was also in talks with the Indian Navy for collaboration in several areas. The company's interests range from cooperating in the IT sector with DRDO as well as other Indian firms in areas other than defence like education and healthcare.
Along with the FICCI and University of Texas at Austin, it recently launched the Lockheed Martin India Innovation Growth Program in Kolkata, which was aimed at accelerating innovative technologies in the global market. Another initiative has been a joint venture with Wipro called Network Centric Operations Centre set up in Gurgaon.