Lockheed Martin and Tata Host F-16 Supplier Conference in Bangalore, India
Lockheed Martin corp. [NYSE: LMT] and Tata Advanced Systems Limited (TASL) are hosting a week-long F-16 industry supplier conference in Bangalore, India. Around 24 Tier-1 suppliers to Lockheed Martin’s F16 program are participating in the supplier conference along with 72 Indian suppliers.
Existing F-16 industry partners include GE, Terma, Honeywell. Fokker, Israeli Aerospace Industries, Elbit, UTC, Eaton, Moog and Parker among others. Discussions centred around Avionics on Monday and Tuesday, while systems were being discussed on Wednesday and Thursday. On Friday Lockheed Martin will focus on the ecosystem for Aerospace and Defence startups and the India Innovation Growth Program (IIGP).
“The F-16 provides unmatched opportunities for Indian companies of all sizes, including Micro, Small & Medium Enterprises and suppliers throughout India, to establish new business relationships with Lockheed Martin, Tata and other U.S. and global industry leaders,” said Vivek Lall, Vice President of Strategy and Business Development for Lockheed Martin Aeronautics. “Exclusive F-16 production integrates Indian industry into a $165 billion fighter aircraft sustainment market.”
The company submitted a 600 page response to the Request for Information (RFI) by the Indian Airforce.
Lockheed Martin has already shifted its F-16 production from its facility in Fort Worth, Texas to Greenville, South Carolina. All the capacity available at Fort Worth, Texas is being used for the F-35s.
Lockheed Martin and TASL announced last year that the two companies intend to join hands to produce the F-16 Block 70 in India if the aircraft is selected by the Indian Air Force.
Lockheed Martin recently announced a partnership with TASL to commence production of F-16 wings in India. These wings are now being produced by Israel Aerospace Industries at its Lahav Division in Israel. “It would be a 2 year process to get Tata qualified to produce the wings. They would be able to produce 9 shipsets of wings for the F16 per month. However this can be scaled to any size,” said Kurt G. Knust, Director, IFG F-16 India Program, Aeronautics, Lockheed Martin. “We were producing even one shipset a day earlier.”
“We are delighted to host the supplier conference with our partners Lockheed Martin and provide a platform that will allow Indian players in the industry explore opportunities, share knowledge with other global suppliers in the F-16 fighter aircraft manufacturing ecosystem. The potential F-16 India Project, as a single source globally, will be highly strategic for India, especially to build new capabilities in the Indian defence manufacturing sector. We also look forward to participating in the selection process for the Fighter Program of the Indian Air Force,” said Sukaran Singh, Chief Executive Officer and Managing Director, Tata Advanced Systems.
“Now GE Aviation is aggressively moving forward to create aerospace manufacturing capability in India. This capability at first will be utilised for aircraft engine component manufacture for our Leap engine. Out in front of this military procurement — the MMRCA campaign— we’re starting to do manufacturing; we’re starting to do some parts. By starting this capability in India is going to help prime them up, so when military procurements have started we would’ve been already doing it. We already understand how to produce parts. There’s efficiencies there and there’s the ability to move more and more parts into India,” said Paul Suttmann, Director, Business Development, Military Systems, GE Aviation.
The 100th C130J empennage and the 150th S92 cabin is slated to be delivered later this year. “Out of 2300 detailed parts of the C130J empennage, 2100 are being produced here in India,” said Abhay Paranjape, Chief Operating Officer, Tata Lockheed Martin Aerostructures Limited.
The F-16 Block 70 features advanced avionics, an Active Electronically Scanned Array (AESA) radar, a modernized cockpit, advanced weapons, conformal fuel tanks, an automatic ground collision avoidance system, an advanced engine and an extended structural service life of 12,000 hours.
To date, 4,604 F-16s have been procured by 28 customers around the world. Approximatety 3,000 operational F-16s are flying today with 25 leading air forces, including the U.S. Air Force. According to Randy Howard, the U.S. Airforce will continue to use its F-16s for 30 years more.
The company recently bagged an order for 14 F-16s from Slovakia and 16 F-16s from Bahrain. The company also hopes to secure an order from Greece soon.