New Delhi: Leading global fighter jet makers such as Lockheed Martin, Boeing and Saab are all rushing in with offers to set up their production lines in India.
These companies are even offering blueprints of future advanced combat aircraft which can be made in the country, a media report said.
New Delhi is expected to announce another round of multi-billion-dollar air force order with a cluster of fleet set to retire soon.
Citing analysts, the Wall Street Journal said that India may place an order worth over $10 billion next year in order to replace its ageing military jet fleet.
The report said that the foreign manufacturers are “encouraged by a recent law that allows 100% foreign ownership of local defense firms”.
And to avail this opportunity, manufacturers such as Lockheed Martin Corp., Boeing Co. and Saab AB are rushing in with offers to set up production lines.
“Efforts to give India unprecedented access to jet fighter know-how illustrate the country’s rising importance to the West as China’s power increases,” the report said citing analysts.
Ties between India and the US have improved over the past decade. India has purchased military equipments from Apache helicopters, transport planes to artillery from the US. Today, the US is India’s second-biggest defense trading partner after Russia.
The report said that industry experts estimate India needs over 300 new combat jets in the next 15 years.
India has also reportedly relaxed foreign investment laws and defense procurement rules in order to equip its military.
Since then, US manufacturers Lockheed and Boeing, and Sweden’s Saab, have proposed building jets with Indian partners, the Journal said.
India has so far not purchased any fighter jets from the US as its air force have been preferring the European and Russian manufacturers, the report said.
According to the report, Lockheed has proposed to move its F-16 production from Fort Worth, Texas, to India.
Boeing wants to help India build F/A-18 fighters and develop jets in the long term, the report quoted Boeing’s India president Pratyush Kumar as saying.
“Saab’s plan would have it build a second manufacturing plant in Sweden for its Gripen E jet type, train Indian technicians there, and then dismantle and ship the plant to India,” the report said citing Saab's India head Jan Widerstrom.
“We’re offering to set up aerospace capability in India for the next 100 years,” he was quoted as saying.