NEW DELHI — Lockheed Martin showed its proposal for an Indian fighter. The F-21, a version of the F-16, was developed specifically for the needs of the Indian Air Force. The American company showcased its Indian offering at the Aero India 2023 international air show.

New Delhi practices proper diplomacy. Started years ago as a small-scale exhibition, today Aero India 2023 hosts over 100 participants. The US is also involved, with the F-35 landing on Indian soil for the first time. F-35, F-21 and B-1B strategic bombers performed demonstration flights. The roar of their engines deafened the skies above Bengaluru, the southern Indian city hosting the expo.

The F-21 is a version of the F-16. Lockheed Martin says the aircraft fully meets New Delhi’s requirements. I.e. a product that is mainly produced locally. The program known as “Made in India” brings together Lockheed Martin and the Indian company Tata Advanced Systems on this project.

Thousands more Indian micro, small and medium enterprises will be engaged if India decides to buy F-21. Tens of thousands of new jobs will be created in India if the F-21 becomes a reality and part of the Indian Air Force fleet.

About F-21

For the first time nearly four years ago, Lockheed Martin showed the F-21 to the Indians. This aircraft is based on the F-16 Block 70/72 base. The F-21 is a single cockpit configuration. The aircraft’s avionics resemble the integration of the most advanced American fighter – the F-35.

The F-21 comes with three underwing launchers for the AIM-120 missiles. Each of which launchers has three rails. The F-21 also has integrated probe-and-drogue conformal fuel tanks from the former F-16IN.

Lockheed Martin created the aircraft as India announced a tender to acquire multirole fighter jets. The value of the alleged contract between India and Lockheed Martin is in the range of $15 billion. One of the main conditions was for the fighter to be produced in the country, and this indicator was met by Lockheed Martin.

Multi Billion Dollar Deal

The US has already “lost” a battle for the Indian market. To disrupt Russia’s dominance of the naval MiG-29, the F-15 Super Hornet attempted to match the Russian fighter’s short runway take-off capabilities. It did so in 2021, but sources claim that the French are winning the tender with their Dassault Rafale.

Impressive US Air Force jets have managed to hide a civilian deal between India, France, and the US. New Delhi has decided to acquire 450 wide-body civil aircraft over the next two decades, a multi-billion-dollar deal. This is the biggest deal in the history of India. It is a complex acquisition of Airbus and Boeing.