Narendra Modi. Picture: REUTERS/EDGARD GARRIDO
Narendra Modi. Picture: REUTERS/EDGARD GARRIDO

Paris — Lockheed Martin signed an agreement with India’s Tata Advanced Systems on Monday to produce F-16 fighter aircraft in India, pressing ahead with a plan to shift its Fort Worth, Texas, plant to win billions of dollars in orders from the Indian military.

India’s air force needs hundreds of aircraft to replace its Soviet-era fleet, but Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s government has said foreign suppliers would have to make the aircraft in India with a local partner to help build a domestic industrial base and cut outright imports.

Modi’s Make-in-India drive runs the risk of conflicting with US President Donald Trump’s America First campaign under which he has been pressing for companies to invest in the US and create jobs instead of setting up factories abroad.

In announcing their agreement at the Paris Air Show, Lockheed and Tata said moving the production base to India would still retain jobs in the US. "F-16 production in India supports thousands of Lockheed Martin and F-16 supplier jobs in the US, creates new manufacturing jobs in India, and positions Indian industry at the centre of the most extensive fighter aircraft supply ecosystem in the world," a joint statement by the firms reads.

The announcement comes days before Modi travels to Washington for a first meeting with Trump, scheduled for June26.

Reuters

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