Lockheed executive Anthony Frese told Indian media that the company is exploring options for building the C-130J in India. Lockheed already has a joint venture in India with TATA known as TLMAL (TATA Lockheed Martin Aerostructures Ltd), building tail assemblies that are installed on C-130s being built in the US.

The Indian Air Force (IAF) already operates a dozen C-130J aircraft, and Frese told the newspaper the plane has an availability rate of almost 90 percent. “It has an impressive track record of accomplishing missions and that places us in an advantageous position in this competition,” he said.

Lockheed is going up against Airbus and Brazil’s Embraer in the battle to sell India 40 to 80 aircraft.

Airbus hopes to sell the IAF its A-400M aircraft. The European company has its own joint venture with Tata to produce 56 C295 transports. Embraer, which builds the C-390 transport, has sold eight planes to India for use as executive jets and early warning and control aircraft. It has signed an agreement with India’s Mahindra to bid for the order.

Lockheed’s Frese is pushing the idea that India should stay the course by buying more C-130Js. “Apart from the aircraft’s versatility, reliability and low operating costs, there will also be commonality in training, maintenance, spares and logistics support,” he said.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s government has been pushing a Make in India initiative to boost the country’s defence industry.

India will still buy from overseas – earlier this month, the Biden administration notified Congress it plans to sell India 31 MQ-9B drones in a deal valued at $3.9 billion – but more and more, it is seeking joint ventures with foreign manufacturers to build weapons systems.

India and the US are on the verge of signing a co-production deal in which General Electric and Hindustan Aeronautics would build GE-F414 jet engines in India for the country’s Tejas Mark-II fighters. The Pentagon has agreed to more than 80 percent of the necessary technology transfer.


Meanwhile, the two countries reportedly are in talks for joint manufacture of the new generation of Stryker infantry combat vehicles. According to the Times of India, the deal would begin with India buying a limited number of off-the-shelf Strykers.

That would be followed by joint production of the vehicles in India. Finally, there would be co-development of future versions.

India would use the Stryker to replace its aging fleet of Russian-origin BMP-II vehicles.

Last week, US national security adviser Jake Sullivan was in New Delhi to meet with his Indian counterpart, Ajit Doval. The two released a fact sheet describing a new strategic semiconductor partnership for precision-guided ammunition and other national security-focused electronics platforms.

A year ago, the two countries agreed on what’s called the India-US Defence Acceleration Ecosystem (INDUS-X). The goal is to make it easier to form partnerships among US and Indian defence companies, incubators and accelerators, investors and universities.

(With Agency Inputs)