David Oliver – On the first day of Aero India 2019, Lockheed Martin launched a new aircraft aimed at the Indian Air Force’s (IAF) requirement for 114 new fighter aircraft worth $15 billion.
The F-21 designation, previously used for the Israeli Kfir operated by the US Navy and Marine Corps as an aggressor aircraft, is in fact an upgraded F-16. Based on the F-16V Block 70 aircraft which features Northrop Grumman’s APG-83 Active Electronically Scanned Array (AESA) radar, a modern commercial off-the-shelf (COTS)-based avionics subsystem, a large-format, high-resolution display; and a high-volume, high-speed data bus. Operational capabilities are enhanced through a Link-16 Data Link, Sniper Advanced Targeting Pod, advanced weapons, precision GPS navigation, and the Automatic Ground Collision Avoidance System (Auto GCAS).
Lockheed Martin claims that the F-21 will incorporate common components and technologies from Lockheed Martin’s F-22 and F-35. It will also feature an extendable hose-and-drogue refuelling probe. According to Vivek Lall, vice president of Strategy and Business Development for Lockheed Martin Aeronautics, the F-21 is different, inside and out.
The F-21 will compete with the Boeing F/A-18 Super Hornet, Eurofighter Typhoon, Dassault Rafale, Saab Gripen, and Russian MiG-35.
Lockheed Martin proposes to build at least 100 F-21s in India with local partner Tata Advanced Systems as part of Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s ‘Make In India’ policy.
by David Oliver