Wednesday, January 5, 2011
Lockheed in talks with govt for six extra C-130 J
Lockheed Martin is in talks with the government for a follow-on order of six additional C-130 J 'Super Hercules' transport aircraft through the Foreign Military Sales route. It is also, separately, in discussions with the ministry of defence over the supply of its Javelin anti-tank missile systems.
"Yes, we are in discussions. They are obviously very pleased with the first six aircraft, and that is actually a better question to the IAF as to when they are going to want the follow-on aircraft," Lockheed Martin India chief Roger Rose told ET in an exclusive chat.
Lockheed's C-130 J transport aircraft are seen as critical to India's military needs, as it seeks to move an increasing number of troops and equipment to secure its northern borders with China and Pakistan.
The aircraft, which has been customised for Special Forces operations, is reputed to be the best in its class, and has the ability to air-transport forces to and from high altitude areas.
"This, because it will be a follow-on order, will be through the FMS route.There are so many advantages to the FMS route (of selling aircraft). The IAF gets it at the same exact prices as the USAF, and get the full faith and guarantee of the US government," Rose said.
However, there has been rampant speculation that the the aircraft will be without a number of communication interfaces, due to a combination of India's refusal to sign two strategic pacts, the Communications Interoperability and Security Memorandum of Agreement (CISMOA); and the Basic Exchange and Cooperation Agreement for Geo-spatial Cooperation (BECA) with the US government.
America's strict technology export regulations forbid the transfer of critical technology to non-signatories.
"We are delivering them exactly as ordered, to the IAF. It (India's refusal) has not affected these aircrafts," the Lockheed Martin India head pointed out.
New Delhi's position is shaped largely by the hardball stand adopted by the Indian Air Force that the said strategic agreements infringe on its military sovereignty.
Rose also said that discussions with the ministry of defence relating to the sale of its Javelin anti-tank guided missiles (ATGM), produced jointly with Raytheon , to the Indian Army were ongoing.
"We have held briefings and have conducted demonstrations for the product. The two governments are in discussions. In the last couple of weeks, we have had a team here in India talking to the defence public sector units and the Indian Army. It is an act in progress," Rose said.
Faced with a huge shortfall of anti-tank guided missiles, coupled with the delayed induction of the indigenous Nag' missile, India has been looking at the rather expensive Javelin ATGM systems from the U.S. Indian infantry formations urgently require a proven ATGM to handle Pakistani and Chinese tank forces, which now include the extremely capable Ukrainian T-80 and T-85 tanks.
Combat proven in Afghanistan and Iraq, eleven countries have selected Javelin to meet their anti-armor requirements, as the thirdgeneration ATGM is a 'fire-and-forget' missile with lock-on before launch and automatic selfguidance .
With regard to the F-35 combat aircraft, the world's largest defence vendor has already held briefings for the Indian Navy, in response to the latter's Request for Information (RFI) sent out last year, but will not be showcasing what is seen as the most advanced jet fighter in the world at Aero India 2011.
"We have had some queries on the F-35 from the Indian Navy, and right now, we follow the customers' desires and intentions.If the Indian government does seriously wish to pursue the F-35 , then we'll pass it over to the USAF," Rose said, adding that Lockheed had not offered the F-35 to the government, but had merely carried out briefings.