January 22, 2008

Lockheed plans to tweak F-16 fighter for INDIA

23 Jan, 2008, 0000 hrs IST,Mayur Shekhar Jha, TNN

WASHINGTON: With India’s biggest defence deal expected to be announced soon, US aviation major Lockheed Martin has decided to upgrade its famous F-16 fighter, with ‘super cruise’ capability and also equip it with active electronic scanned array radars.

So far, the ‘super cruise’ capability is only seen in fifth-generation fighters F-22 Raptors and the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter, which is yet to be officially rolled out. The purchase of 126 fighter planes by the Indian Air Force is to be announced on March 2.

Besides F-16, other contenders for the contract include Boeing’s F-18, Russia’s MIG 35, Eurofighter, Sweden’s Gripen and the French Rafale.

According to sources, AESA radars was one of the specific requirements mentioned by IAF in its request for proposal (RFP). The AESA radar, which gives the capability to simultaneously track and destroy ground and air threats, has reportedly been cleared by the US government for installation in 80 F-16s ordered by UAE in a recent deal.

Meanwhile, Lockheed Martin is working on a series of measures to cater to the requirements of the Indian force. The Fighting Falcon, which will be made available to India, will be called F-16 IN.

“The proposed India-specific fighters will also be armed with infra-red search and track pods as well as counter electronic warfare pods. The F-16 IN is a complete new aircraft and caters to India’s requirements and there can be no comparison with Block 50 and 60 fighters, being made for other countries,” Lockheed Martin India campaign director Chuck Artymovich told ET.

He said the company was prepared to meet the RFP requirements of offsets and would do so in the field of aeronautics or for co-development of an Indian Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV). Fighting Falcons have proved to be the world’s largest selling fighters, with sales touching 4,300. It also holds a record of 400,000 hours of combat flying and of being the safest multi-role fighter in the US history.

Asked why the company did not offer its 5th generation fighter F-35 for the deal, Mr Artymovich said the time-frame in which the supply was required ruled out that possibility. However, the company did not rule out India’s participation in the production of the joint strike fighter in future. In another significant deal with India, the company is set to sell 6 of its transport carriers C-130J. This will be the first ever direct armed weapon sales by an American company to India.


Anonymous said...

The F-16 fighter aircraft is undoubtedly the most able and proven platform in its category, in terms of reliability and fuel efficiency, other parametres being equal.
But it is going to be a difficult choice for India to go for it, for two reasons.
Firstly, the F-16IN version offered by Lockheed Martin would be a formidable, although expensive choice, which will hardly have any match in India's neighbourhood. In a war scenario, this would be a nightmare for the Chinese, and this is precisely what Indian Air Force needs, to deal with our real and primary threat, that comes only from China. This is also a perfect foil for the China containment, as envisaged by the US. On the flip side, buying from Lockheed Martin also means helping an entity that would always act as a spoiler, when it comes to dealing with Pakistan, as the US would always have in place, an India containment policy, through arming Pakistan !
Hence it is a double edged sword for India, and the choice is hard.
Indian policy makers must realize that threat form China is more real,that is going to hover over India for a long time to come, as compared to threat from Pakistan, that is largely dependent on economic support from US and China, and may subside with eventual demise of Pakistan. But China is here to stay for a long long time.
The next best choice may be to go for the upgraded MIG from Russia, with AESA Radar and avionics from Israel, or western sources. MIG is an equally formidable platform, although lacking in fuel efficiency and reliability. But this would be a cost effective option for a country like India, that can not afford to be reckless in spending its resources!


Anonymous said...

F-16IN is most advanced version of F-16 developed so far however it is very costly and also there will not be any major tech trasnfer for this.

On the other hand MIG35 is the most advanced version of MIG29 now and quite mature. Given that RD-33 will be avaible for manufacturing in india as per agreement signed. We will be able to produce these fighters as per our requirement. The best bet is that it can be inducted without spending too much since repair & storage facilities for MIG29 is already available

Anonymous said...

The F-16 fighter aircraft is undoubtedly the most able and proven platform in its category, in terms of reliability...
Our new Polish F-16 Block 52+ are frequently grounded due to various malfunctions and long deliveries of spare parts from USA...

Anonymous said...

For the person, who mentioned that the Polish F-16s malfunctioning and problem with delivery of spare parts form the USA, the reason is simple, once the equipment is sold, your nation is at the mercy of USA, and same would be the case with UK and others. This is the real world where no one is your friend, not even USA and UK, that are the so called champions of good, over evil !!
Remember my fried, Poland will always be treated as a country from the east block, and will never be treated as friend by the US and UK.
By the way, the problem of spares parts delivery for F-16s will be solved, when you allow to the USA to have their missile defence system installed in Poland.

Good luck !!!!!

sincerely ,

Anonymous said...

The contract for Advance Jets will NEVER GO TO USA that is for sure .

Anonymous said...

Lockheed Martin F-16IN, developed to grab the Indian contract may not be the end of the story !! The very next year the US administration would approach the Congress for F-16PAK, oestensibly to fight Al Qaida ?!@#
That batch of 30 odd F-16s would be either funded from US assistance for war on terror, or might be financed by the Saudis !!
India, be smart, never ever get too close to the unreliable Americans and the British !!!!!!


Anonymous said...

Ah we have seen so many MIGs in Deserts crashing just b/c of faulty LOW CHEAP parts from Russia. USA is known for its best DEFENSE tech so drop the MIGs and go with USA Technology. I am sure this deal will go to USA. B/c of corruption in India RUSSIA had chance to sell CHEAP parts to India. Lead to disaster and lost of lives and citizen's money. Also LHM had long relationship with India(since 1995) so its not sell and run deal. with So many F-16 sold the choice is CLEAR.
GO F-16 IN. drop the Russian dirt tech. (I am Proud INDIAN BORN AMERICAN.)