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Lockheed running against time for Tejas 'flight path'

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A File Photo of Light Combat Aircraft

NEW DELHI (BNS): Not having much time left on its side American aerospace giant Lockheed Martin is likely to lose another important contract related to India’s Tejas Light Combat Aircraft (LCA).

Lockheed Martin, selected in June as a consultant for developing the naval version of the Tejas was given 90 days to obtain the clearances it needed from the US government, a report by the Business Standard said Monday.

But with time running out, Washington has sent Lockheed Martin a list of questions about what assistance the company will provide, it said.

Meanwhile, the Aeronautical Development Agency (ADA), which manages the Tejas programme, has recommended to the Ministry of Defence that another consultant be chosen as it cannot delay the naval version any longer.

ADA has put forward the names of France’s Dassault Aviation, and European consortium EADS.

According to the report, Lockheed Martin is continuing dialogue with the Aeronautical Development Agency and the US Department of Defense and is hopeful that the company will be able provide the consultancy desired by ADA on the Naval LCA.

Earlier in 1993, Washington had also ordered the company to terminate its partnership with ADA in developing the Tejas’ high-tech flight control system (FCS) when India carried out the Pokhran nuclear test. India eventually developed the world class FCS that is fitted on the Tejas today.

Lockheed Martin is still fighting to salvage the situation, the company told Business Standard, but the decision now lies in the hands of V K Saraswat, scientific advisor to the defence minister.

The naval Tejas, being developed around the twin-seater air force trainer, will take to the skies by mid-2010. But it will fly off an aircraft only in 2014, after getting a new, more powerful, engine.

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