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Lockeed Martin gets together industry partners at the Supplier Conference 2019 for the proposed indigenous F-21 production

Yunus Dar

The US aerospace giant Lockheed Martin raised the pitch for its F-21 fighter jet deal, offering new deals to India, at the 2019 Supplier Conference organised along with Tata Group on 16 July 2019. This was the 3rd suppliers conference held by the company to shore up its supplier network in the country. Lockheed Martin is in the fray for the Indian Air Force’s (IAF) requirement of 114 jets. The suppliers conference was held to bring together the company’s strategic partners in India for the proposed F-21 production. According to the company sources, around 100 companies expressed their interest to be part of the programme. In addition, the conference saw the presence of 26 Tier-I global suppliers, which currently partner Lockheed Martin for its F-16 programme.

Lockheed Martin's VP, strategy and business development, Vivek Lall at the Supplier Conference

“Lockheed Martin is fully committed to meeting India’s need for advanced, scalable defence capabilities,” vice president of Strategy and Business Development, Lockheed Martin Aeronautics, Vivek Lall said. “Our partnership with Indian industry on both the F-21 and S-76D proposals for the IAF and Indian Navy will put India at the epicentre of world’s largest defence ecosystem and deliver unmatched sustainment and export opportunities,” he added.

Some of the Indian suppliers spoke of the proposed partnerships with the US aerospace giant at the conference. Director & CEO, Expleo Technologies India Pvt. Ltd, Venkataramana Mantha, said, “This is a fantastic opportunity for all the Indian suppliers to congregate and be part of Lockheed Martin’s supplier conference. And as supplier and engineering services partner, we work on many aircraft programmes, and this in fact, has given an ideal platform for us to interact with many of the Tier 1s of Lockheed Martin and these meetings are extremely well organised compared to some of the other events I have participated in. We have adequate time to talk about our capabilities, and thereafter see how we can add value to these Tier 1s and then in turn to Lockheed Martin.”

Another supplier at the event, Air Cmde K.I. Ravi, VP Strategic Business Aerospace & Defence, Kaynes Technology said, “It’s been a wonderful opportunity, it’s a supplier conference. We have about 75 suppliers from all over the country, a good conglomeration to discuss the aerospace ecosystem, an excellent interaction between the suppliers and the original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) is taking place and will take place in due course. Identifying niche technologies available with MSMEs and SMEs is the core issue and then forming the ecosystem, forming consortium of this ecosystem to realise the ‘Make in India’ product is the ultimate aim of this occasion.”

Tata Advanced Systems, the company’s decade old partner in India, which hosted the event in India, also expressed confidence that the event will open a new chapter in India’s industrial ecosystem. “We are happy to co-host the supplier conference with our strategic partner Lockheed Martin, setting a common platform for the Indian players to meet and share knowledge with global suppliers and OEMs,” said Sukaran Singh, chief executive officer and managing director of Tata Advanced Systems. He further said, “Our successful partnerships and joint ventures with Lockheed Martin have helped to build new capabilities and strengthen the Indian defence manufacturing sector and India-US ties. We hope to further grow this relationship with the F-21 project and other world-class programmes.”

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