The Indo-US Military Trade is expected to touch $ 25 billion over the next few years. Big defence and aerospace companies are looking to increase their presence in the Indian market. Later this week the two countries will be having the second round of the 2+2 Ministerial Dialogue in Washington DC, where defence minister Rajnath Singh and external affairs minister S Jaishankar will be meeting their counterparts.
The defence relationship between the two countries has been witnessing an upward increase and this has now emerged as a major pillar of the Strategic Partnership between the two countries.
Bilateral defence trade, maritime domain awareness multi-lateral and bilateral exercises have been increasing compared to other countries.
Dr Vivek Lall, Vice President for Strategy and Business Development, Lockheed Martin Aeronautics, shares his thoughts with Huma Siddiqui on the Indo-US relations as well as the offer of the F-21 and the company's involvement in other projects. Following are excerpts:
Assessment of US India defence relations?
We are very encouraged by the positive trend we are seeing in India-US relations, including on the defence-industrial partnership front. Defence-industrial partnerships have long been a hallmark of strategic ties and trust between nations. As an example: Tata Advanced Systems and Lockheed Martin has established an industrial base in Hyderabad where the production of C-130J empennages is going on. These are incidentally on all Super Hercules aircraft globally, and there is also a metal-to-metal bonding facility at the same location. This shows how we have contributed in playing a major role in the development of the defence industrial partnership between the two countries.
We recently strengthened our commitment to India by announcing a landmark Make in India partnership with Tata to produce F-16 wings in India for all future customers. We see tremendous strength and opportunity in India's defence industry and we're very excited by the incredible potential in India.
From a capability perspective, how does the F-21 offering fit into the overall Indian Air Force (IAF) fleet mix?
The F-21 will truly be a game-changer for the IAF, Indian industry and India-US strategic ties. We are confident the F-21 is the best solution to meet the Indian Air Force's capability needs, provide Make in India industrial opportunities, and accelerate India-US cooperation on advanced technologies, including but not limited to fighter aircraft.
The F-21 delivers an advanced single-engine, multi-role fighter at the most optimal Life Cycle Cost for the IAF with the longest service life of any competitor-12,000 flight hours. Simply put, the F-21 goes further, faster, and stays longer than the competition. The F-21 will meet all of India's performance, capability and advanced technology requirements, and provide unmatched opportunities for Indian companies of all sizes and suppliers throughout India.
Several countries in the Indo Pacific region have or are procuring F-16 aircraft including Thailand, Singapore, Indonesia, and Taiwan. Can you elaborate on how that helps F21 offering to India?
An F-21 partnership integrates India into the world's largest and most successful fighter aircraft ecosystem-a $165 billion market.
In addition to Tata, Lockheed Martin industry partners and suppliers include BAE Systems, Cobham, Collins Aerospace, Curtiss-Wright, Eaton, Elbit Systems, Elta, GE Aviation, Honeywell, L3Harris, Martin Baker, Meggitt, Moog, Northrop Grumman, Parker Hannifin, Pratt & Whitney, Rada, Rafael, Raytheon, Safran Electrical & Power, and other leading global defence and aerospace companies.
Is Lockheed Martin willing to partner with India on the AMCA program as it is the only company with an operational fifth Generation platforms in the world?
We are indeed open to working with the Government of India on AMCA, as well as the LCA Mk2.
India continues to make great strides in Space. What does Lockheed Martin offer in the Space programmes?
India is a key contributor to the success of the global space community. The Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) is a primary member of the 14-agency International Space Exploration Coordination Group (ISECG) that collaborates to define the Global Exploration Roadmap (GER). Lockheed Martin is proud to have participated in international workshops conducted in India and we value the relationships we have developed with government and academia in India.
For more than 50 years, Lockheed Martin Space has built a legacy of expertise and a reputation as a global leader in space for Civil, Military, and Commercial applications. We offer a complete portfolio covering the entire space value chain. We have a strong commitment to international collaboration and expanding global relationships. We welcome the opportunity to contribute to the advancement of India's goals in space and look forward to expanding our engagements with India's space industry.