Can you guess which fixed-wing aircraft in military service is most popular today? In other words, which fixed wing aircraft in military service has the largest global fleet? The answer is rather simple and straightforward. It is the F16 aircraft produced by The General Dynamics (now Lockheed Martin). Lockheed Martin F-16 Fighting Falcon is a single-engine supersonic multirole fighter aircraft originally developed by General Dynamics. As of 2015, it is the world's most numerous fixed-wing aircraft in military service. In its Global fleet, there are 2,242 combat aircraft and the remainder 242 trainers. Besides use by armed forces of United States, as many as 25 nations have the aircraft as their mainstay in the air forces.
Maryland, USA-based aerospace giant Lockheed Martin has now announced that all future wings of the F16 for the global market, outside of the US, will be built in India by Tata Advanced Systems (TASL). Manufacturing is scheduled to begin in couple of years or in late 2020. Lockheed says however that the TASL deal will not affect the US market, which would be supplied from Lockheed’s American operations. Times of India has reported that Lockheed has also offered to move its entire F-16 manufacturing base for global markets to India.
Lockheed and TASL are already cooperating in two projects. TASL has started manufacturing Sikorsky S92 Helicopter Cabin Assembly along with manufacture of detailed parts. TASL is also making for Lockheed Martin C-130J aircraft, Empennage & Center Wing-Box Assembly.
TASL is fast emerging as a major defense manufacturer with several new projects, such as manufacture of Boeing AH64 Apache Fuselage along with secondary structures, Boeing CH47 ChinookAft Fuselage Panels and General Electric LEAP Engines Parts. TASL says that a subsidiary of TASL has won the tender for supply of 49 mini UAVs to Indian Army having qualified through a competitive bidding process. It has received the supply order from Northern Command for its system Aquilon, which is the largest such order for mini UAVs by Indian Army till date.
6th September 2018