The Obama administration gave the defense industry the go-ahead on plans to build classic American fighter jets in India.
With the support of the current administration, both Lockheed Martin and Boeing have been in talks with the Indian government to build the F-16 Fighting Falcon and the F/A-18 Super Hornet for the Indian Air Force in India, according to the Washington Post.
The companies intend to move their production facilities to India. Lockheed may relocate its entire F-16 assembly line, moving manufacturing from Texas to India.
While the F-16 has been produced in other countries through joint ventures before, this could be the first time that the entire assembly line has been moved abroad.
The F-16 may be produced “exclusively” in India.Furthermore, in addition to manufacturing and exporting U.S. fighter aircraft, India will also be involved in supporting thousands of F-16s operating worldwide.
Having strengthened cooperation with the Indian military in recent years, these deals have the full support of the Obama administration.
“Between discussion in working groups and the growing presence of US defense industry in India, we are optimistic about the future of co-developing and co-producing defense systems,” Air Force Secretary Deborah Lee James said during her visit to New Delhi in August.
Secretary of Defense Ashton Carter will head to India this week, where procurement will likely be discussed further.
India is eager to modernize its air force to offset Chinese and Pakistani advancements.
The deals are expected to boost the “Made in India” initiative at a time when President-elect Donald Trump is fighting to “make America great again” and keep jobs in the U.S.
The deal with Lockheed could create 1,000 new jobs for India.
“The U.S. is going to substantially reduce taxes and regulations on businesses, but any business that leaves our country for another country, fires its employees, builds a new factory or plant in the other country, and then thinks it will sell its product back into the U.S. without retribution or consequence, is WRONG!” Trump tweeted Sunday.
“Please be forewarned prior to making a very expensive mistake! THE UNITED STATES IS OPEN FOR BUSINESS,” he concluded.
On the campaign trail, Trump repeatedly criticized foreign countries for stealing U.S. jobs.
Lockheed asserts that the deal with India will not cost U.S. jobs.
“It doesn’t take jobs away from the U.S., it extends existing jobs, and not just for Fort Worth but for many other companies around the U.S. that build parts for the F-16,” Randy Howard, the director of business development for Lockheed’s integrated fighter group, told the Washington Post.
The U.S. is phasing out the outdated F-16 for its own use and embracing newer programs like the F-35.
If the deal goes through, around 300 mechanics at Fort Worth may be transferred to F-35 assembly line, and other Lockheed employees will be given the opportunity to apply for new jobs affiliated with the company’s newer programs.
The F-16 is still one of the most widely used aircraft in the world today.
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