Lockheed Martin-Tata joint venture shows it can build fighter wings - Broadsword by Ajai Shukla - Strategy. Economics. Defence.

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Tuesday 7 December 2021

Lockheed Martin-Tata joint venture shows it can build fighter wings

Lockheed Martin claims more than seven decades of association and three decades of partnerships with Indian industry


By Ajai Shukla

Business Standard, 8th Dec 21


In a fulsome acknowledgement of technological capability, Lockheed Martin on Tuesday formally recognised Tata-Lockheed Martin Aerostructures Limited (TLMAL) as a future partner for building fighter aircraft wings in India. 


TLMAL — a joint venture (JV) between Tata Advanced Systems Limited (TASL) and Lockheed Martin Aeronautics — was established in 2010. 


In 2018, Lockheed Martin and TLMAL signed an agreement to develop a fighter wing prototype. “Through this prototype project, TLMAL demonstrated the capability to perform detailed part manufacturing and delivery of a fully compliant representative fighter aircraft wing shipset,” said a Lockheed Martin press release.


“Lockheed Martin partnered with TLMAL to build one of the most technologically complex aerostructures — a fuel-carrying 9G, 12,000 hour, interchangeable/replaceable fighter wing,” said Aimee Burnett of Lockheed Martin’s Integrated Fighter Group.


“This effort represents Lockheed Martin demonstrating to India, and to the world, the degree of confidence that exists in our relationships with our partners in India. Lockheed Martin is one of the only aerospace and defence companies with a complex aerostructure capability for advanced fighters in India,” said Burnett.


The US aerospace giant is competing with at least six other fighter aircraft manufacturers – including The Boeing Company, Saab, Dassault, RAC-MiG, Sukhoi and Eurofighter GmbH – to supply the Indian Air Force (IAF) with 114 fighter aircraft. Lockheed Martin is offering the F-21, a modernised version of the F-16 Block 70 fighter.


“This achievement (development of a wing) further strengthens Lockheed Martin’s partnership with India, and supports its F-21 offering for procurement of 114 new fighter aircraft — exclusively for India and the IAF — by proving additional indigenous production capability,” said Lockheed Martin.


TLMAL is the single global source of empennage assemblies that are installed on Lockheed Martin’s C-130J Super Hercules aircraft. TLMAL recently delivered the 150th C-130J empennage. 


 “The successful completion of the fighter wing shipset prototype project is another achievement between TASL and Lockheed Martin,” said Sukaran Singh, the TASL chief. “With this, TLMAL creates a new benchmark in complex and end-to-end defence manufacturing in India that demands utmost precision and quality in all aspects of the process.”



Last month, Lockheed Martin held the8th edition of what is now an annual Suppliers Conference. In this, the US company developed manufacturing partnerships with Indian firms, in order to meet some of the offset obligations arising from the sale to India of C-130J Super Hercules transport aircraft and MH-60R Seahawk maritime helicopters.


Highlights of the 8thSuppliers Conference include developing a partnership with Bengaluru-based wiring harness maker, Rossell Techsys, for work on the company’s MH-60R Seahawk helicopters.


Lockheed Martin also announced it is working with the US government to secure licences for manufacturing parts for the Legion-ES infrared search and track sensor system and the Sniper Advanced Targeting Pod in India.


A ceremonial event was held on Tuesday at the TLMAL facility in Hyderabad to mark the first fighter wing prototype built. Telangana government and TLMAL officials attended the event.


Lockheed Martin claims more than seven decades of association and three decades of partnerships with Indian industry. This cooperation has included transport, maritime and fighter aircraft, shipborne air and missile defence projects and civil sector projects in new and renewable energy.

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