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Trump Admin taking a fresh look at F16 sale to India: Lockheed

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WASHINGTON (PTI): The Trump Administration is taking a fresh look at Lockheed's proposal to have a F-16 manufacturing base in India if New Delhi agrees to buy the fighter jets, company officials have said.

"For several months, we've been working with President (Donald) Trump's transition and governance teams and leaders in Congress providing information on our many programmes and potential business opportunities including the proposed sale of F-16 fighter aircraft to India," a Lockheed official told PTI on Monday.

Lockheed, which is one of the top global manufacturers of fighter jets, said that its officials have briefed the Trump Administration on the current proposal, which was supported by the Obama Administration as part of a broader cooperative dialogue with the Government of India.

"We understand that the Trump Administration will want to take a fresh look at some of these programmes and we stand prepared to support that effort to ensure that any deal of this importance is properly aligned with US policy priorities," the official said.

Ultimately, the configuration of any F-16 sale to India will be determined by government-to-government discussions, the Lockheed official noted referring to the fact that all major defense sales needs approval of the US Government.

The official said that the company continues to believe that the F-16 is the right aircraft to meet India's fighter aircraft needs and the opportunity to sell F-16 aircraft to India represents a significant opportunity for the US economy.

"The selection of the F-16 by India would preserve US jobs at Lockheed Martin and throughout our US supply chain. It could also create opportunities for future aircraft sales and upgrades by keeping F-16 production active," the official said.

According to Lockheed, which has been in India for more than 25 years, this unique F-16 opportunity delivers advanced defense capabilities and strengthens the strategic partnership between the US and India.

The F-16 is ready for any challenge, combining innovative structural and capability upgrades, such as the Active Electronically Scanned Array radar with a new avionics architecture. The Block 70 software further enhances capabilities through an advanced datalink, precision GPS navigation and Automatic Ground Collision Avoidance System, the official said.

In India, Lockheed Martin has partnership and joint venture company with Tata Advanced Systems Limited (TASL), which has proven that Indian industry can manufacture airframe components for the C-130J airlifter and the S-92 helicopter.

"We hope to build on that success with the F-16, the world's most successful, combat-proven multi-role fighter.

Because when it comes to success in complex environments, we know trusted partnerships can make a world of difference," the company said.

Lockheed opened its India subsidiary in 2008.

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