Lockheed Martin and India’s Tata Group disclosed this week that they have formed a partnership to build the F-16 fighter in India. If the F-16 is selected as India’s next fighter, the production line will move there to satisfy New Delhi’s requirement that any such fighter be indigenously built with a local partner. Tata Advanced Systems, the defense arm of one of the world’s biggest industrial conglomerates, was an obvious partner. Lockheed’s plan is probably the last, best hope to keep the F-16 in production, since the U.S. and many of its allies are migrating to the next-generation F-35 fighter. There are plenty of places Washington isn’t willing to sell F-35s, so Tata could generate major export earnings as it gradually transforms the F-16 into a predominantly Indian product. In the near term, U.S. suppliers such as engine makers and radar manufacturers will continue to provide content, sustaining U.S. jobs that otherwise would have disappeared with the demise of the production line. This could be a model for the future among U.S. military contractors, as they seek to grow their global footprint by being more responsive to the needs of emerging military powers. I have written a commentary for Forbes here.
Find Archived Articles: