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Lockheed to offer F-35 to India, willing to re-enter MMRCA race

Lockheed Martin F-35 Lightning II.

LE BOURGET, PARIS (PTI): After India rejected its F-16 jets, US defence major Lockheed Martin Tuesday said it is willing to offer the latest F-35 stealth fighter planes if the US government approves it.

"The decision has to be taken by the (US) government.

There has not been any discussion between us and the Indian Government," Lockheed's Martin Director of Communications of F-35 Michael J Rein told PTI here, saying his firm is willing to rejoin the bid for the USD 11 billion fighter jet deal for procurement of 126 Medium-Multi Role Combat Aircraft.

The Indian Government had rejected Lockheed's offer of F-16 along with another US firm Boeing’s offer of F/A-18 Super Hornet from the race for procurement of the jets.

Rein said the offer of F-35 stealth fighter to India has been mentioned in a draft Senate Bill and it was up to the US Government to take it forward.

The proposal to allow sale of F-35 stealth fighter has brightened the prospects of Lockheed Martin returning to the race for the deal, a top official of an Aerospace firm attending the Paris Air Show said.

Both Boeing and Lockheed Martin had been aggressively biding for the anticipated USD 11 billion deal.

Rein, who is here to as part of Lockheed Martin’s delegation to Paris Air Show, was replying to a question on reports that the US defence major will offer its F-35 jets to India to rejoin the race for the MMRCA contract, billed as one of the largest in recent times world-wide.

Lockheed Martin had offered the F16IN Super Viper to India which was rejected by the Indian government along with Boeing's F-18 Super Horne and Russian MiG.

India has shortlisted two European contenders, French Dassault Rafale and European Eurofighter for procuring 126 Medium-Multirole Combat Aircraft (M-MRCA) deal for the Indian Air Force (IAF) in April.

However, another executive, not wished to be named, said it would be difficult for Lockheed Martin to rejoin the competition as Indian government has already completed the shortlisting exercise.

The Senate bill that figures the F-35 proposal is being prepared to further intensify the military cooperation between the two strategic partners.

Meanwhile Boeing and Aviation Industry Corporation of China (AVIC), China's largest state-owned aviation company, today announced that they will open the AVIC-Boeing Manufacturing Innovation Center (MIC) in Xi'an, Shaanxi Province of China.

The AVIC-Boeing MIC will enhance Boeing's production system by increasing AVIC's efficiency and capacity to supply high-quality parts for Boeing airplanes. The MIC will also support AVIC's goals of improving its manufacturing and technological capabilities and the competitiveness of its affiliated factories.

It was also announced today that Boeing has awarded a contract to produce 737 rudders to Chengfei Commercial Aircraft Co. (CCAC), an AVIC company located in Chengdu, China.

"AVIC has established a long-term partnership with Boeing, and I am very delighted to see that both sides have committed to establish the AVIC-Boeing Manufacturing Innovation Center," said AVIC President Lin Zuoming.

"This agreement marks a new step in our companies' mutual cooperation and has great significance in deepening our relationship."


Air Force  India  MMRCA  Lockheed  

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