US built F-16 fighter jet
Lockheed Martin says it is prepared to build F-16 jets in India to support the "Make in India" initiative. In Picture: A US built F-16 fighter jet.Reuters

American defence and aerospace technologies provider Lockheed Martin Corp said on Thursday that it is ready to manufacture F-16 fighter jets in India. The US and India are currently in talks to set up the first F-16 manufacturing unit in India, under the 'Make in India' initiative.

However, the defence giant is yet to give a time-frame when it could begin operations. The company said it supported the government-to-government talks which are currently underway, Press Trust of India reported.

Lockheed manufactures one jet in a month.

"We are ready to manufacture F-16 in India and support the "Make in India" initiative. Phil Shaw, CEO of Lockheed Martin India, told reporters at the Singapore Airshow 2016.

According to industry observers, Lockheed's wish to manufacture the F-16 jets in India is due to the Indian Armed forces strong demand that making fighter jets in the country could lower cost of production.

"Certainly, Lockheed Martin would want to exploit the engineering skills and low-cost capabilities in India and make the F-16 jets very competitive in fighter jets markets," sources told PTI.

It will be a win-win situation for both, as India would get a boost for its "Make in India" initiative and the Indian sub-continent is the ideal option for Lockheed as India offers low-cost but highly qualified workforce.

If the agreement is finalised by 2017, then the company could roll out its first "Made in India" fighter jet by 2020, the report added.

According to reports, the firm will also provide the Indian Army with modernised pilot night vision sensor systems, which would support apache helicopters, which was awarded as a military contract worth $107.8 million by the US.

Last week, reports of the US government's decision to supply Pakistan with eight F-16 fighter jets invoked sharp reaction from India, which said it was disappointed with the deal and summoned the US envoy to convey its "displeasure," an earlier IBTimes India report said.

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