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By Bulbul Singh

24 Feb 08. Lockheed Martin is negotiating with India’s defense research agency to jointly develop a missile defence system. This was revealed during the Defexpo. Meanwhile Russia also concentrated on display of its anti-missile defence system during the exhibition.

“I would not be surprised if over the next couple of months we begin to have some exploratory discussions with various members of the government and with Indian industry,” said Rick Kirkland, Lockheed Martin President, South Asia, who was present at the Defexpo 2008 show. Lockheed Martin last month secured an order for the sale of six C-130 J cargo aircraft to the Indian Air Force and is pitching for the $10bn MMRCA program for India.

“We have established a long-term presence in India with the opening of our India subsidiary, Lockheed Martin India Pvt. Ltd. Former U.S. Ambassador, Douglas A. Hartwick is the Chief Executive of Lockheed Martin India Pvt. Ltd. and has the mission to support Indian defense and government agencies through global partnerships and presence in world markets.”

A senior Indian defence ministry official said, discussions have been held with Lockheed Martin several times on variety of missile defence systems which could be offered. The official added that India is on the look out of an anti-missile defence system in addition to the home-grown system called PAC-3 which has been developed with Israeli help and tested twice.

Sources in the Indian defence ministry also said that Lockheed Martin has also held talks with India Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) to co-develop an anti-ballistic missile defence system.

Sources also said, that Lockheed Martin executives have also held a meting with the top scientist of DRDO engaged in missile defence V.K. Saraswat on the possibility of co-developing an anti-ballistic missile system.

Lockheed Martin is working on the development of a multi-layered anti-missile defence system for the US, of which, PAC-II, III and Terminal High Altitude Area Defence (THAAD) would form essential components, an executive of Lockheed Martin at Defexpo 2008 said.
The Russians had also showed their latest missile defence system, the S-300PMU2 Favorit mobile multi-channel long-range air defense missile system.

The spokesman of Rosoboronoexport claimed that the Russian system was better than its closest foreign equivalent, the US-made Patriot PAC-3 (Patriot Advanced Capability-3) system,” a spokesman of Rosoboronexport, the state-controlled arms exporter, said.

The Russian stall also featured the “Favorit”, a highly effective counter to cruise and ballistic missiles with a range of up to 1,100 kilometres.

Despite the development of an indigenous anti-ballistic missile system India will need hundreds of anti-ballistic systems to be placed along both the Chinese and the Pakistani border to thwart from any missile attack from the two nuclear–capable countries said V.K. Choprra retired Indian army Lt. General and defence analyst.

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