America’s F-16 Fighter Jet May Become Next ‘Make in India’ Project

This move makes India able to undercut Pakistan strategically and manage a feather in its ‘Make in India’ cap.

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An US fighter F-16 aircraft performs on the 2nd day of the
Aero India 2013 at Yelahanka Air base in Bengaluru. (Photo: PTI)

India was not happy last month when the US decided to sell Pakistan F-16 fighter jets. But now, according to a report by The Hindu, India may be able to undercut Pakistan strategically and manage a feather in its ‘Make in India’ cap.

Lockheed Martin, the US arms manufacturer that makes the plane, has said that it is in talks with the US government, the Indian government and Indian companies about “potential new production F-16 aircraft to address India’s fighter recapitalisation requirements.”

The question for India is whether the huge cost of such a deal is outweighed by economic and strategic implications.

For India, the calculus underlying any decision to accept Lockheed Martin’s presumed offer, which could come as soon as April 2016 given that it would then coincide with the visit to India of US Defence Secretary Ashton Carter, is complex and multi-dimensional. In terms of economics, the principal concern is that the F-16 is now in some senses going out of vogue in the developed world, and the US’ defence production appears to be increasingly leaning towards the far more advanced, stealth-capable F-35. In this context wouldn’t it seem more prudent for the Indian Air Force to continue relying on the Sukhoi and MiG platforms and the expected incoming 36 Rafales and then cover any shortfall in capability with the indigenous Tejas?
Report in The Hindu

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