May 20, 2019 (by Lieven Dewitte) - It seems that Lockheed Martin will not offer its F-21 fighter, customized to suit India, to any other country if the Indian Air Force (IAF) places an order for 114 jets that it currently looking to acquire.
Lockheed Martin F-21 concept drawing. [Lockheed Martin image]
The IAF last month, issued an RFI (Request for Information) to acquire 114 jets at a cost of around $18 billion, which is billed as one of the world’s biggest military procurement in recent years.
“We will not sell this platform and the configuration to anyone in the world. Lockheed Martin will also set up a manufacturing facility in India along with Tata Group,” Vivek Lall, vice president of Strategy and Business Development for Lockheed Martin told PTI.
The F-21 is an F-16 Fighting Falcon derivative that has been tailored to include Indian-specific technologies. It offers 12,000 hours of service life air frame, as oppose to 8,000 hours in F-16 block 70. Aside of that, the F-21 additional 40 percent weapons carrying capability.
The jet has a Long-Range Infrared Search and Track (IRST), enabling pilots to detect threats with precision and Triple Missile Launcher Adapters (TMLAs) allowing it to carry more air-to-air weapons and cockpit upgrades such as a new large area display. It also has a traditional boom-delivered refuelling facility and an extendable hose-and-drogue refuelling probe which would make it the only fighter that has a combination of both
“Looking from a distance may make it look similar to F-16 Block 70, but it is different,” he added.
Meanwhile, Lockheed Martin's competitor, Boeing, recently offered to set up a new facility for the production of F/A -18 Super Hornet fighters in India along with an option of technology transfer, if the country places a big order for the aircraft.
The aircraft would be produced in conjunction with Indian manufacturer Tata Advanced Systems. The latter being responsible for the manufacture of the aircraft in-country.
The F-21 is being pitched against rival systems, including the Boeing F/A-18E/F Super Hornet, Dassault Rafale, Eurofighter Typhoon, the Mikoyan MiG-35 and Saab’s Gripen