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Lockheed Martin to sell surveillance aircraft to India

By Our Staff Reporter

BANGALORE, FEB. 10. The U.S. aerospace major, Lockheed Martin, today said that it had secured the export licence from the American Government for the sale of P-3C Orion, the maritime surveillance aircraft, and the C-130 J `Hercules,' to India.

The Lockheed Martin regional vice-president, Dennys Plessas, told presspersons at the ongoing Aero India 2005 here that it was his "understanding" that India was looking to buy eight to 12 P-3C Orions and six to eight C-130 Js. "That will be their initial requirement."

He said a team of U.S. naval officials would visit India next week to hold talks with Indian Navy officials over the sale of P-3C maritime surveillance aircraft. "Specifications will be decided at the meeting." Lockheed Martin signed an agreement with Hindustan Aeronautics Ltd. on Wednesday for refurbishment and maintenance of the P-3C.

Mr. Plessas said the U.S. Government was considering India's request of information on the F-16 class of fighter jets and he hoped that Lockheed Martin would get the clearance at the earliest.

"It is a long drawn out process but we hope to add India to the list of countries we work with."

Besides the United States, India had sent a request to France, Sweden and Russia for 126 multi-role combat aircraft of 20 tonne class. The deal would be an inter-governmental one.

Lockheed Martin had come with a large team of officials as the U.S. Government has launched a major initiative to build confidence with India for a partnership in military hardware.

The initiative began post-Pokhran sanctions on Indian companies in purchase of defence and aerospace wares from U.S. companies.

He said his company was looking to work with information technology companies and Indian aviation companies in the private and public sectors.

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