Lockheed Martin may sell fifth generation F-35 to India

New Delhi, Feb 16 (IANS) US defence major Lockheed Martin Tuesday said it may consider selling the fifth generation fighter aircraft F-35 if approached by the Indian Air Force (IAF).

‘We will consider this if the IAF approaches us,’ Orville Prins, vice president for Lockheed Martin India’s operation, told reporters at the sixth edition of Defexpo India.

The F-35 Lightning II joint strike fighter (JSF) is being developed by Lockheed Martin Aeronautics Co for the US Air Force, Navy and Marine Corps and Britain’s Royal Navy.

Beside the US, Australia, Canada, Denmark, Italy, the Netherlands, Norway, Singapore and Turkey have joined hands to develop the F-35. Lockheed Martin is the lead developer.

The stealthy, supersonic multi-role fighter was designated the F-35 Lightning II in July 2006. The JSF is being built in three variants: a conventional take-off and landing aircraft (CTOL) for the US Air Force; a carrier variant (CV) for the US Navy; and a short take-off and vertical landing (STOVL) aircraft for the US Marine Corps and the Royal Navy.

India is jointly developing its fifth generation fighter aircraft with Russia and it is likely to be developed by 2017.

Lockheed Martin is one of the six contenders pitching for 126 fourth generation medium multi-role combat aircraft sought by the IAF. The order is valued at approximately $10 billion. The other contenders are from France, Russia, Sweden, Europe and the US.

‘We have completed trials for our F-16 IN. We expect other countries will also finish it soon,’ Prins added.

Prins said there was a possibility that they would deliver six C 130 J (transport aircrafts) before the delivery schedule.

‘There is a possibility that we can deliver in December 2010 against the schedule delivery date of February 2011,’ he said.

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