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SOURCE: RAUNAK KUNDE / NEWS BEAT / IDRW.ORG

In a bid to secure the Indian Air Force’s (IAF) Medium Transport Aircraft (MTA) contract, Lockheed Martin has unveiled a strategy that emphasizes increased Indian content and a focus on the Indo-Pacific market. This move aims to address India’s Make in India initiative and potentially sway the decision in favour of the C-130J Super Hercules turboprop airlifter.

Lockheed Martin has committed to significantly increasing the supply of C-130J components manufactured in India. This includes expanding the role of Tata Lockheed Martin Aerostructures Ltd, the sole supplier of the aircraft’s tail structure (empennages). The Indian plant will not only cater to the 80 MTAs for the IAF but also serve as a manufacturing hub for the Indo-Pacific region, where many countries still operate older C-130 variants and are looking to upgrade.

This strategic shift establishes India as a key player in the C-130J production chain. By catering to the Indo-Pacific market, Lockheed Martin aims to leverage India’s skilled workforce and cost-competitive manufacturing environment. This could potentially lead to lower costs for regional C-130J procurements and upgrades, further solidifying Lockheed Martin’s position as the preferred supplier in the region.

Lockheed Martin isn’t limiting its proposal to the C-130J transport variant. They have also offered the KC-130J tanker variant, capable of aerial refuelling, to bolster the IAF’s aerial refuelling capabilities. This comprehensive package addressing both transport and refuelling needs could prove particularly attractive to the IAF.

IAF already operates Six C-130J transporters in its fleet and initially had planned to procure 12 more that were largely procured for Special Forces Operations. IAF is currently reevaluating its requirements under MTA and might skip the tender and instead place additional orders for eh Airbus C-295M that are to be locally manufactured.

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