New Delhi: US aerospace giant Lockheed Martin says it will not sell its newly rolled out F-21 fighter jet to any other country if India places an order for 114 planes, in an offer aimed at pitching itself ahead of its US, European and Russian competitors for the mega deal.
Vivek Lall, vice president of Strategy and Business Development for Lockheed Martin, says if F-21 wins the contract, then India will be integrated into the company’s global fighter ecosystem, which is a USD 165 billion dollar market.
In an interview to PTI, Lall said the new combat jet is designed to operate across over 60 air force stations in India, and its key aspects include superior engine matrix, electronic warfare system and weapons carrying capacity.
“We will not sell this platform and the configuration to anyone in the world. It is a significant commitment by Lockheed Martin and it shows importance of India and importance of unique requirement India has,” he said.
Last month, the Indian Air Force issued an RFI (Request for Information) or initial tender to acquire 114 jets at a cost of around USD 18 billion, which is billed as one of the world’s biggest military procurement in recent years.
The top contenders for the deal include Lockheed’s F-21, Boeing’s F/A-18, Dassault Aviation’s Rafale, the Eurofighter Typhoon, Russian aircraft Mig 35 and Saab’s Gripen. Official sources said the IAF is pushing for finalising the mega deal in the wake of the Balakot strikes and evolving security scenario in the region.
Lall said if Lockheed wins the contract, it will not only set up a state-of-the-art F-21 manufacturing facility along with the Tata Group, but will also help India create an ecosystem for overall growth of the country’s defence manufacturing.
On observation that the F-21 is similar to Lockheed’s F 16 Block 70 combat jet, he said such a view is unfair as there have been significantly differences between the two platforms.
F-21 is different in terms of various aspects including its air frame, weapons capability, engine matrix and availability of engine options.
“As for example, you are now looking at 12,000 hours of service life air frame in F-21 versus 8,000 hours previously (F 16 Block 70). The additional 40 per cent weapons carrying capability is new in F-21 which was not there in F 16 Block 70. The electronic warfare system is uniquely developed for India,” he added.
“Looking from a distance may make it look similar to F 16 Block 70, but it is different,” he added.
Besides having a traditional boom-delivered refueling facility, the F 21 also has an extendable hose-and-drogue refuelling probe. “This is the only fighter in the world which has both the capability,” said Lall, adding the cockpit has a new large area display. “It is a modern cockpit and has a significant piece of ability to synthesise information. These are unique capabilities that we are not offering to other countries in the world,” said the Lockheed executive.
The jet has a Long-Range Infrared Search and Track (IRST), enabling pilots to detect threats with precision and Triple Missile Launcher Adapters (TMLAs) allowing it to carry 40 per cent more air-to-air weapons.
SC grants bail to 23 accused in Trilokpuri case
New Delhi: The Supreme Court on Tuesday granted bail to 23 accused who have challenged a Delhi High Court verdict sentencing them to five-year jail term after holding them guilty in a 1984 anti-Sikh riots case registered in Trilokpuri area of Delhi.
A Bench headed by Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi indicated that their appeals would be heard in due course after Solicitor General Tushar Mehta said the state had filed a petition seeking review of the top court’s earlier order acquitting 15 other accused in the case for want of evidence.
The Supreme Court had on July 5 asked the NCT Government and Delhi Police to respond to petitions filed by the 23 accused challenging a Delhi High Court verdict convicting and sentencing them to five-year jail term.
Almost 3,000 people were killed, most of them in Delhi, in the riots that broke out following the assassination of the then Prime Minister Indira Gandhi on October 31, 1984. The instant case related to riots in Trilokpuri between October 31 and November 3 in 1984.
The accused were convicted of rioting, burning houses and violation of curfew in Triokpuri area of the national capital during the riots.
These appeals were filed after the Supreme Court on April 30 acquitted 15 of the accused convicted in the case and awarded five-year jail terms for offences of rioting, burning houses and violation of curfew in East Delhi’s Trilokpuri.
A Bench headed by Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi had allowed five appeals filed by 15 convicts challenging the November 28, 2018 verdict of the Delhi High Court which upheld a trial court verdict convicting the accused.
The Bench–which also included Justice Deepak Gupta and Justice Sanjiv Khanna–had said there was no direct evidence against these accused and they were not identified by witnesses.
Sonia lashes out at Centre, says government considers RTI Act a ‘nuisance
New Delhi: UPA chairperson Sonia Gandhi on Tuesday slammed the Centre for passing the Right to Information (Amendment) Bill, 2019 and said that the BJP-led government at the Centre sees the RTI Act as a nuisance. She added that by amending the RTI Act, the Centre wants to destroy the status and independence of the Central Information Commission which was put on par with the Central Election Commission and Central Vigilance Commission.
It is to be noted that the new bill seeks to amend the 2005 RTI Act and proposes to give the Centre decisive power to set salaries, allowances and service conditions of the Information Commissioners at both central and state government levels.
The new bill was tabled by Minister of State for Ministry of Personnel, Public Grievances and Pension Jitendra Singh in Lok Sabha. While tabling the bill, Singh had said that it was an anomaly to equate Information Commission to a constitutional body like the Election Commission (EC). The proposed bill states the reason for amendment as “the mandate of Election Commission of India and central and state information commission are different. Hence, their status and service conditions need to be rationalised accordingly.”
During the debate on the bill on Monday, Congress MP Shashi Tharoor had said that that under the proposed changes the central government will get the power to hire and fire independent information commissioners. Tharoor also raised question over the government’s decision to bring the bill “without any public consultation” and accused the Centre of having vested interests in introducing the bill.
‘Give us 4 weeks to appear’: 13 MLAs to K’taka Speaker on disqualification plea
Bengaluru: Thirteen rebel lawmakers in Karnataka, whose resignations have pushed the Congress-JD(S) government to the brink of collapse, have written to Assembly Speaker K R Ramesh Kumar asking him four weeks’ time to respond to his summons. The Speaker had summoned the legislators on the disqualification petition moved against them by the Congress leader Siddaramaiah.
Ramesh Jarkiholi, Mahesh Kumathahalli, BA Basavaraj, BC Patil, Pratapgouda Patil, Shivaram Hebbar, ST Somashekhar, MTB Nagaraj, and Munirathna of the Congress and K Gopalaiah, AH Vishwanath and Narayana Gowda of the JD(S) have written to the Speaker.
The letters were similar in content and informed the Speaker that they had not received the copy of the petition and other documents seeking their disqualification.
Their letter read: “You are aware that Disqualification Rules, 1986, require a minimum of 7 days period. In spite of the same, the proceedings are being hurried up.I am not in station now and I requite to consult my lawyer after receiving the papers. The Hon’ble Supreme Court in the case of Balachandra R Jarkiholi vs BS Yeddyurappa reported in (2011) 7 SCC 1 has held that 7 days notice period is mandatory. In these circumstances, I request you to grant four weeks time to appear.”
The coalition government had slipped into a crisis two weeks ago after 16 lawmakers — 13 from the Congress and three from the JD(S) — resigned. Ramesh Kumar is yet to take a final call on accepting the resignation letters.
The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) has 105 members, the Congress-JD(S) coalition has the support of 100 MLAs, excluding Kumar, in the 225-member Assembly. There are 15 rebel MLAs, two Independents and one MLA from the BSP, while another is a nominated member. If the resignation letters of the rebel MLAs are accepted by the Speaker, the government would be in a minority.
The debate on the trust vote dragged on in the Assembly well into Monday night with impatient BJP members pressing for an end to the discussion, which began last Thursday.
Despite assurances by Ramesh Kumar on Monday morning that the vote would be held during the day, the House was adjourned around 11.40 pm without the floor test being conducted. Kumar promised that the trust vote will be held by 6pm on Tuesday.