Posted on February 20, 2019 · Posted in Factory Fresh

Meet the Lockheed Martin F-21. Specifically configured for the Indian Air Force, the F-21 provides unmatched ‘Make in India’ opportunities and strengthens India’s path to an advanced airpower future.

The F-21 addresses the Indian Air Force’s unique requirements and integrates India into the world’s largest fighter aircraft ecosystem with the world’s pre-eminent defence company. Lockheed Martin and Tata would produce the F-21 in India, for India.

In addition to creating thousands of new jobs for Indian industry, F-21 production in India supports thousands of US supplier jobs, including hundreds of US-based Lockheed Martin engineering, program management, sustainment and customer support positions.

This Lockheed video of the F-21 concept depicts a somewhat beefier jet than the F-16.

Most noticeably, the plane has a retractable probe, similar to the kind used by U.S. Navy and Marine Corps aircraft, that allowing them to take on fuel in flight via a hose-and-drogue system used by the Indian Air Force. Standard F-16s are refueled in flight with a boom.

The special refueling system is tucked into massive conformal fuel tanks on each side of the fuselage behind the cockpit. Lockheed’s Skunk Works advanced development division started working on the refueling system back in 2007.

Lockheed illustrations show the plane with a heavy weapons load and a Sniper targeting pod. The cockpit’s instrument panel has a large, single screen, similar to the company’s F-35 Joint Strike Fighter.

Aerospace experts say there is little to differentiate the F-21 from the F-16 Block 70, which will first enter service in Bahrain, The dorsal fairing, they say, is an attempt to overcome the IAF’s key reason for rejecting the F-16 in the MMRCA contest – that it lacked potential for growth.

“This is a straight marketing play, following the same playbook as the Russians did when they rebranded the MiG-29 as the MiG-35”, says Pushpinder Singh, who publishes the aerospace trade journal, Vayu.

Incongruously, the US military already has an F-21 fighter, suggesting the rebranding was done in haste. In the late-1980s, the US Navy bought the Israeli Kfir fighter to play the role of “aggressor” (enemy) aircraft in two-sided air exercises. That aircraft was named the F-21.

In unveiling the F-21 fighter, Lockheed Martin stated: “The F-21 addresses the IAF’s unique requirements and integrates India into the world’s largest fighter aircraft eco-system with the world’s pre-eminent defence company. Lockheed Martin and Tata Advanced Systems would produce the F-21 in India, for India.”

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