F-16 Plant May Move To India


Lockheed Martin has reached a deal to shift production of F-16 wings to India, sparking speculation it might be planning to build the entire aircraft there in the near future. Tata Advanced Systems Ltd., of Hyderabad, already makes airframe components for the C-130J and Sikorsky S-92 helicopter but the F-16 deal is a major step up from that involvement. Initially at least, all the production would be for export but stock analyst website Motley Fool says it might be just the first step in a long-range plan to keep the world’s most popular jet fighter in production for years to come.

For years there has been speculation that Lockheed would shutter its Fort Worth F-16 plant due to slumping demand and its preoccupation with getting the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter program in order. India is shopping for up to 126 new fighters and the F-16 is in the running. Having the industrial presence in India would likely give it a leg up in that competition. And since wages in India are a fraction of labor costs in the U.S., Motley Fool says moving production of the whole plane could make the ubiquitous Viper even more accessible to smaller countries that are unable to afford the F-35. Lockheed Martin wants the wing plant up and running by 2020.