Jayant Baranwal, Editor-in-Chief, SP’s ShowNews, spoke to Randall L. Howard and Abhay Paranjape of Lockheed Martin. Excerpts:
Jayant Baranwal (Baranwal): Does F-16 Block 70 offer any kind of stealth element?
Randall L. Howard (Howard): True stealth in all aspects has to be designed within the aircraft, that’s not the kind of stuff that comes with any aircraft but for F-22 and F-35. Having said that, F-16 offers a lot of general stealth, as it is a small aircraft and it has a pretty small cross section. There is coding that can be placed on the aircraft. The fighter includes a new radar system, stealth detection capability and threat detection capability; it competes very well in its class being undetectable to the radar.
Baranwal: What exactly is the offer of Lockheed Martin, also in the context of ‘Make in India’?
Abhay Paranjape (Paranjape): We are not looking at just assembling India’s aircraft here. We are looking at establishing the complete manufacturing base and the ecosystem here in India. We are looking at transferring our entire production from our existing Fort Worth facility to India and also exporting them from here. So what that means also is we now have a vested interest in making sure that it succeeds. Lockheed Martin is going to be selling aircraft made here to the world and we will make sure that it succeeds.
Baranwal: Which particular programme of the Indian Air Force you are aiming for with the F-16 Block 70?
Paranjape: You are very well aware that the medium multirole combat aircraft (MMRCA) programme was about 126 odd aircraft. The Rafale is going through the final stages right now and is apparently for much smaller number. The MMRCA proposal came out in 2007 and we are in 2016, so we definitely think there is significant number of aircraft that will be required going forward. How many, what type, what and when exactly, that is up to the Indian Air Force.
Baranwal: Can F-16 compliment the light combat aircraft (LCA) induction?
Paranjape: The induction of an aircraft into the force is obviously the decision of the Indian Air Force. You saw the briefing from Howard, as far as the capability; you can look it up as far as LCA’s capabilities, the range and the type and compare that with F-16 and you can see.
Baranwal: What will be the turnaround time for the first delivery from the Indian facility post the decision? Can you give an exact timeline?
Howard: I think it is hard to give an exact timeline. The typical delivery period of F-16 is about 36 months range. The challenge we have is to train the workforce and put in place all the facilities. We have given a notional timeline to the government on the production. To be very specific in the public forum is very hard, because there are a lot of variables and dependencies. But I can say that we have done these many times and we have a proven track record of having it done successfully.
Baranwal: As per recent reports, we believe that you are expecting a potential business worth $15 billion in India.
Howard: According to us this is a very conservative figure. We believe if the things fall in place then the potential of business is way too bigger than $15 billion.
Advanced AESA Radar Capabilities:
Centre Pedestal Display: Enhanced data, high resolution displays to enhance battlespace awareness.
Advanced Avionics Architecture: Digital video and high-speed data network enable capability growth.