During AeroIndia show in Bengalore, Lockheed-Martin revealed on February 20, 2019, the new name of its contender competing to become the new fighter jet of the Indian Air Force: the F-21.
While the name might be reminiscent of the F-22 Raptor, also manufactured by Lockheed Martin, the F-21 is in fact an F-16V “Viper” adapted to the needs of the Indian Air Force.
To do so, the F-21 is fitted with a Ground Collision Avoidance System (GCAS), a retractable flight refueling boom, a “Sniper” targeting pod, and an Active Electronically Scanned Array AN/APG-83 radar provided by Northrop-Grumman, derived from the two radars that already equip the F-22 and the F-35.
And the American manufacturer insists heavily on the commonality between the F-21 and the two stealth fighters in its catalogue. “The F-21 has common components and learning from Lockheed Martin’s 5th Generation F-22 and F-35 and will share a common supply chain on a variety of components” says the manufacturer reported by Reuters. It goes as far as to name its candidate “India’s Pathway to F-35”.
This tender favors “make in India” proposal, with technology transfers and the use of companies in the Indian aviation sector. Dassault Aviation has been allied with Reliance since the previous tender (MMRCA) which saw 36 Rafale being ordered, while Boeing relies on Hindustan Aeronautics Limited and Mahindra Defense Systems. As for Lockheed Martin, it promised that through Tata Advanced Systems, it would build F-21 assembly lines in India which would create “thousands of jobs” for Indian workers and support “hundreds of new jobs” for American engineers. Hopefully for Lockheed, this will please both the “Made in India” and the “America First” campaigns.