Lockheed is offering IAF its F-21 (refurbished F-16 Viper) for 114 multirole fighter jets deal

New Delhi: US aerospace giant Lockheed Martin shared information about new partnership opportunities with the Indian companies during the five-day virtual annual suppliers conference that ended on July 31, said an official statement on Thursday.

These opportunities with the Indian industry are in areas like space, aeronautics, rotary and mission systems (RMS) and missiles and fire control (MFC), the company said.

"A highlight from the company's RMS group is future work with MH-60R (naval helicopter) for India. There is an offset requirement for the programme, and so as part of that, Lockheed Martin will put more indirect work over in India," it stated.

During the February visit of US President Donald Trump, India announced that it will procure 24 MH-60R helicopters, worth around USD 2.6 billion.

Lockheed Martin on Thursday said its RMS team will work with capable Indian companies over the next 7-8 years and provide opportunities to the industry to integrate into the global supply chain.

"RMS'' Supply Chain team already works with several industrial partners in India and plans to expand that list, strengthening its commitment to the country," it added.

In April last year, the Indian Air Force issued an RFI (request for information) or an initial tender to acquire 114 multirole fighter aircraft at a cost of around USD 18 billion, which is billed as one of the world's biggest military procurement in recent years.

The top contenders for the deal include Lockheed's F-21, Boeing's F/A-18, Dassault Aviation's Rafale, the Eurofighter Typhoon, Russian aircraft MiG-35 and SAAB's Gripen.

On July 16 last year, Vivek Lall, the then vice president of Strategy and Business Development for Lockheed Martin, had said the company's offer of F-21 fighter jets is a very robust ''Make in India'' proposition and if the country goes for the deal it will be "plugging into the world's largest fighter plane ecosystem".

The company on Thursday said its annual supplier conference, which took place between July 27-31 virtually, was themed ''Making India part of the Global Supply Chain''.

It said the conference saw participation of more than 200 companies of all sizes -- large, micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs) and start-ups. The conference was co-hosted with the Society of Indian Defence Manufacturers (SIDM) and the Confederation of Indian Industry (CII).

"The event reiterated Lockheed Martin's resolve to develop the capabilities of suppliers and to give them access to the global supply chain to manufacture in India, from India, for India and the world," it said.