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F-16s to fly at AeroIndia 2007

December 10, 2006 (by Asif Shamim) - Lockheed Martin will for the first time let the F-16 perform at an Indian airshow hoping to impress Indian defence personnel and win the fighter jet deal.

The chosen venue for the biennial 'AeroIndia 2007' aerospace exhibition will be held at Yelahanka Airbase in Bangalore and the show will take place from 7 to 11 February 2007. Lockheed Martin is pitching a $10 billion deal to the IAF and hopes to impress Indian defence personnel at the airshow and hope to win the fighter jet deal.

More than 4,000 F-16s have been sold since it began production in 1976 and now Lockheed produces these aircraft for the export market.

On top of the military contracts, Lockheed Martin plans tie-ups with Indian firms for sourcing components and parts. "The geo-political situation has changed. India and the United States have signed a nuclear deal. Now, we are here for making our presence in India... not through an office and just sell our products but also seeking partnerships here," Lockheed Martin Global Inc Managing Director Royce L Kaplinger said.

However, he declined to divulge details on the type of partnership the US firm is looking for and which are the companies they were talking to.

Lockheed Martin has recently been awarded an initial $78 million as part of a $144 million contract for long-lead tasks related to the production of 18 new block 52 F-16 aircraft for India's neighbouring country Pakistan.