Lockheed Martin is assured of its F-16IN fighter aircraft being the best contender for the Indian Air Force (IAF) 126 Medium Multi Role Combat Aircraft tender.
Lockheed Martin’s Vice President of Business Development in India, Orville Prins points to two characteristics that go in favour of the Super Viper. “The key is the radar. The F-16IN has an operational AESA radar. Only Boeing’s F/A-18 can say the same. But the Super Viper is the only single-engine aircraft with an operational AESA radar. That makes for a low lifecycle cost,” he says.
He also points out that while all other companies are talking about building a fifth generation fighter, Lockheed Martin has already accomplished this. “There’s only one company in the world that’s actually built not one, but two fifth generation fighters. The F-22 and the F-35 are the only fifth generation aircraft in the world today,” says Prins.
So is the F-16IN actually a thirty-year-old aircraft or a new one? Prins clarifies, “It’s a new airplane. In fact we still have to develop it.” The F-16IN is designed especially for India and is not being offered to any other country
He also refers to maintenance issues, pointing to the other aircraft on display at Aero India 2009. “Look at the other aircraft here. Only the F-16 is ready to take off within minutes of landing after refueling. The others have to take time over maintenance. So the turnaround time is quicker,” says Prins.
He recommends independent confirmation of the abilities of the F-16. “Speak to the one air force that has consistently been operating the F-16 for combat. Speak to the Israeli Air Force. Don’t go by what we say. Talk to an actual user. They’ll tell you all about it,” says Prins.