Lockheed Martin made a bold bet to be a winner in the Indian government’s competition for a new fighter fighter. The American manufacturer has offered the F-21 fighter with exclusivity to the Indian Air Force (IAF) if it is chosen in the $ 18 billion program – also compete for Saab Gripen, Dassault Rafale, MiG-35, Boeing F/A-18 and Eurofighter Typhoon.
The F-21 is nothing more than a variant derived from the F-16 Fighting Falcon, but it will feature avionics and Indian specs. In addition, Lockheed Martin has committed to producing the 114 planes planned in the country with its local partnership, Tata.
Although some critics consider the F-21 to be an F-16 Block 70, the airframer argues that there are a number of differences, including the longer service life of 12,000 hours (40% more than the F-16) and warfare being exclusive to India.
The F-21 also has 40% more air-to-air weaponry and is equipped with features such as Long Range Infrared Search and Track (IRST) and TMLAs (Triple Missile Launcher Adapters).
The Indian government has issued the application for purchase of the fighters in April and is expected to authorize the funds for the acquisition in June. Among the requirements are the manufacture of at least 85% of the fighters in the country, a local partnership and the transfer of technology.
The Air Force of India currently operates a fleet of fighters of French and Russian origin. From old MiG-21s and Mirage 2000s to newer fighters like the Rafale, MiG-29 and Sukhoi Su-30, the most numerous of the force. Since 2015, it also has HAL Tejas, a locally developed fighter with support from Dassault.
Due to frequent conflicts with Pakistan, the Indian Air Force has expanded its power. In February, MiG-21 fighters fought Pakistani planes and shot down an F-16, just the fighter plane now offered by Lockheed Martin.
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