Lockheed Martin to jointly make presidential copters in India

VH 92

Keeping its date with Make in India, US defence giant Lockheed Martin has begun construction in the country of the first lot of six VH 92 Super Hawk helicopters that transport the US president. 

The manufacturing of cutting-edge choppers in India is expected to lead to more employment generation in the manufacturing sector. Lockheed Martin is collaborating on this project with the Hyderababd-based Tata Advanced Systems Ltd (TASL). The VH 92 Super Hawk is a new generation helicopter which is based on the Sikorsky S-92, whose cabin, some other parts and wire harnesses are made only in India.

The VH variant is a much advanced version of the civilian S-92 rotorcraft or its military version, the H-92 with more powerful twin engines, fly-by-wire systems and highly advanced communication and electronic warfare (EW) protection suites. Lockheed Martin is the world’s top manufacturer of advanced military systems, and its collaboration with TASL augurs well for the prospects of value-added defence manufacturing in India.

Lockheed Martin’s decision to manufacture these choppers, which ensure the security of the US President, shows the growing comfort factor in India-US strategic and commercial relations. During his visit to the US in September, India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi had interacted with the head of Lockheed Martin, who expressed his unstinting support for the ‘Make in India’ programme. 

India’s manufacturing sector, which hasn’t been as successful as its services sector, is looking for an upgrade by entering into collaboration with defence manufacturers of various countries such as Russia and Israel,  top suppliers of weapons to India. Both Russia and Israel have expressed their support for the ‘Make in India’ initiative and are exploring opportunities for joint manufacturing in India. The Tata-Sikorsky (76:24) venture had rolled out is first cabin in 2010, about a year after the assembly line was shifted from Japan to India. 

India’s manufacturing currently contributes around 24 percent of the total GDP while its services sector contributes more than 50 percent of the GDP. Support from defence manufacturing giants like Lockheed Martin not only brightens the growth prospects of the manufacturing sector, but also set a precedent for other defence giants to make in India.

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