US defense giant Lockheed Martin may soon start producing F-21 in India. Lockheed-built Indian F-21 combines the F-16 “Fighting Falcon” multirole fighter configuration with an advanced Northrop built APG-83 AESA, advanced computer display, high-definition cockpit systems, conformal fuel tanks, missile warning sensor, helmet-mounted cueing system, new Electronic Warfare systems, along with a triple-rail AIM-120 launcher “allowing the F-21 to carry 40% more air-to-air weapons than previous F-16 designs.
Lockheed Martin has agreed to manufacture F-21 fighters in India with the Indian defense firm Tata Advanced Systems Limited. The new AN/APG-83 AESA radar nearly doubles the range of existing radar systems (AN/APG-80 AESA radar), enabling much more substantial detection and targeting capability. The capabilities of this advanced Northrop Grumman AN/APG-83 Scalable Agile Beam Radar (SABR), a multifunction active electronically scanned array (AESA) radar, are derived from Northrop Grumman’s family of highly successful 5th generation fighter AESA radars, the F-22’s APG-77 and F-35’s APG-81. Range: 370 km (230 miles).
F-21 has the longest service life of any competitor — 12,000 flight hours. The F-21 also uses a U.S. Navy-built advanced Infrared Search and Track targeting technology – AN/ASQ-228 Advanced Targeting Forward-Looking Infrared (ATFLIR) manufactured by Raytheon.
Aviation experts note that F-21 is an advanced version of the F-16V Block 70/72 multirole fighter that includes technologies developed for the F-22 “Raptor” and F-35 “Lighting II” program.
Lockheed Martin describes the F-21 as being “specifically configured for the Indian Air Force,” and that it provides unmatched “Made in India” opportunities that could strengthen the nation’s path to an advanced airpower future. Lockheed Martin had also offered to shift the production of the F-16 line from the United States to India.
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