June 19 (UPI) -- Lockheed Martin has signed an agreement with Tata Advanced Systems Limited to manufacture the F-16 fighter plane in India, the companies announced Monday.
The deal was signed at the Paris Air Show, and is intended to make India the main service and manufacturing hub for the 3200 F-16s in service worldwide.
"Our partnership significantly strengthens the F-16 'Make in India' offer, creates and maintains numerous new job opportunities in India and the U.S., and brings the world's most combat-proven multi-role fighter aircraft to India."executive vice president of Lockheed Martin Aeronautics Orlando Carvalho said.
The deal comes as the Indian Air Force is holding a competition for the procurement of over 100 single-engine fighter planes. The F-16 has been competing against the Saab Gripen E fighter.
The deal would move Lockheed's sole F-16 production line from Ft. Worth, Texas to India, which would include manufacturing for export. It would also allow India to integrate its own sensors and weapons onto the the Block 70 jet.
The deal with Tata comes months after Lockheed announced it would move the F-16 production line to Greenville, S.C., to make way for production of the F-35 in Fort Worth.
The F-16 Block 70 is the most modern version of the F-16 Fighting Falcon, variants of which have been in service since 1978. The F-16 is a single-engine multi-role jet cabable of air-to-air and air-to-surface missions. It is in use by 26 countries, with over 4500 built.
The Block 70 has a upgraded AESA radar, improved data displays and connectivity, and an Automatic Ground Collision avoidance system to help prevent crashes.