15 Aug 20. Announced in yesterday’s DoD Contracts Bulletin was a massive $62bn order for Lockheed Martin’s ubiquitous F-16 fighter jet.
14 Aug 20. Lockheed Martin Corp., Fort Worth, Texas, has been awarded a $62,000,000,000 ten-year, indefinite-delivery/indefinite-quantity (IDIQ), fixed-price-incentive contract for new production of F-16 Foreign Military Sale (FMS) aircraft. The total value for the initial delivery order is $4,941,105,246 and will be awarded on the same date. The initial delivery order is for 90 aircraft, including both the pre-priced recurring core configuration costs at $2,862,797,674 and the engineering change proposal/undefinitized contract action for the non-recurring costs not-to-exceed $2,078,307,572 obligated at approximately $1,018,370,710. Work will be primarily performed in Greenville, South Carolina; and Fort Worth, Texas, and is expected to be completed Dec. 31, 2026. This contract involves 100% FMS to FMS partner nations and is the result of a sole-source acquisition. FMS funds in the amount of $3,881,168,384 are being obligated at the time of award. Air Force Life Cycle Management Center, Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, Ohio, is the contracting activity (Basic IDIQ: FA8615-20-D-6052; initial delivery order: FA8615-20-F-0001).
Tantalizingly the customer was not revealed in the announcement, merely that it was an FMS deal. Is it a multiple customer order or F-21 for India or both? From the wording it looks like a single customer order as the order period is 10 years.
BATTLESPACE Editor Julian Nettlefold got on the phone to our resident aerospace expert Michael Gething, who narrowed down the customer to either Saudi Arabia, India, Egypt or possibly Taiwan. BATTLESPACE is waiting for a reply from Lockheed Martin.
The total value for the initial delivery order is $4,941,105,246 and will be awarded on the same date. The initial delivery order is for 90 aircraft. This tallies with the Indian requirement for 114 aircraft.
Research on the internet shows a remarked similarity to this announcement and an article in Forbes magazine on May 18 2020 in an article by David Axe, ‘Maybe India Will Get Its Super F-16, After All.’
In May Forbes reported that the F-21, Boeing F/A-18E/F, the Rafale, the European Typhoon, the Swedish Gripen E and the Russian MiG-35 and Su-35 were contenders for a 114-fighter Indian program. Indian companies would assemble the new jets on license.
Given that the F-21 has technology from the F-35 and F-22 it would seem to be the natural choice from the other contenders. It will give India the edge against Chinese aircraft and technology and also give India what it wants for indigenous production and technology.
‘The total value for the initial delivery order is $4,941,105,246 and will be awarded on the same date. The initial delivery order is for 90 aircraft. ‘
This tallies with the Indian requirement for 114 aircraft.
The Indian requirement is for 114 planes and this order is for an initial batch of 90 aircraft. Forbes said, ‘The 114-plane program could cost $15bn. The new, 83-plane LCA purchase, which comes on top of a previous order for 40 of the type, could set back New Delhi around $6bn.’
‘Maybe India Will Get Its Super F-16, After All.’
Hang on—maybe the Indian Air Force will buy the F-21, a sort of “super F-16” from U.S. plane-maker Lockheed Martin.
India’s chief of the defense staff Bipin Rawat said in a May 15 interview that the air force would cancel its tender for 144 foreign-made jet fighters and instead order 83 additional Indian-made Tejas Light Combat Aircraft on top of the 40 LCAs the service already has paid for.
“The Indian Air Force is switching that to the LCA,” Rawat said.
Rawat’s announcement seemed to be the death-knell for the F-21, a greatly-upgraded F-16 variant that Lockheed is developing specifically for the Indian tender.
But hold on! Air Chief Marshal R.K.S. Bhadauria, the head of the Indian Air Force, on May 18 contradicted Rawat. Bhadauria clarified that the Indian Air Force wants both the 114 foreign planes and the additional LCAs.
The lightweight Tejas with its single engine and four-ton payload is in a different class than are the medium-weight fighters—some of them with two engines—that the air force hopes to acquire under the 144-plane tender.
For the record, Bhadauria explained that the air force’s current fighter-acquisition programs include the foreign tender, a long-term requirement for 100 “advanced medium combat aircraft” plus separate purchases of 36 Rafales from France as well as up to 200 LCAs in several variants.
The 114-plane program could cost $15bn. The new, 83-plane LCA purchase, which comes on top of a previous order for 40 of the type, could set back New Delhi around $6bn.
The 114-plane program could cost $15 billion. The new, 83-plane LCA purchase, which comes on top of a previous order for 40 of the type, could set back New Delhi around $6 billion.
The F-21 arguably is the most sophisticated of the candidates. Compared to older F-16s, the design boasts new cockpit displays, conformal fuel tanks, a large airframe spine that can accommodate communication systems or radar-jammers, fittings for towed radar decoys, a new infrared sensor and a refueling probe for use with India’s Russian-made aerial tankers.
The super-F-16 also includes technology from Lockheed’s F-22 and F-35 stealth fighters.
“The F-21 has common components and learning from Lockheed Martin’s fifth-generation F-22 and F-35 and will share a common supply chain on a variety of components,” Lockheed stated on its website on the morning of Feb. 20, 2019.
A few hours later, that claim disappeared from the site. In any event, the F-21 would have been the most advanced version yet of the single-engine F-16, which flew for the first time in 1974.
The Indian air force in 2020 maintains just 28 fighter squadrons against a requirement for 42 squadrons. The current force includes European-designed Jaguars, French Mirage 2000s and Rafales, Russian MiG-29s and Su-30s and the Tejas.
The service hopes to stand up three new units in 2020 as additional Rafales, Su-30s and LCAs arrive.
We await news from Lockheed Martin, but BATTLESPACE would put its money on this deal being for India and the F-21!