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Will not sell F-21 jet to anyone if deal with India is finalised: Lockheed Martin

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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.


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Naveen Patnaik-led BJD sweeps Odisha assembly polls

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Mumbai: Naveen Patnaik-led Biju Janata Dal (BJD) clinches a clean sweep in the Odisha assembly elections. However, the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) has tried to increase the vote margin than the previous elections.

The BJD has secured 94 seats. While the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) has joined the race with 28 seats, the Indian National Congress (INC) managed to attain 12 seats and the Communist Party of India, Marxist (CPM) with 1 seat.

The counting of votes began at 8 am. The Lok Sabha and Assembly elections in Odisha took place simultaneously in four phases on April 11, 18, 23 and 29.

 

In 2014 Odisha assembly election, the Biju Janata Dal (BJD) had won 117 seats out of the total 147. The Congress had won 16 seats while the BJP, on the other hand, 10 of the 147 assembly seats.

An Odisha-centric exit poll jointly done by Sambad, the most circulated regional daily in the state, and Kanak News, its group-owned TV channel, gives BJD a massive lead over its closest rival Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP).

Sampling a survey of over 100,000 respondents, the exit poll forecasts BJD winning 85-95 of the 147 Assembly seats, where outcomes were polled till this report was filed. The BJP is seen contending with a distant second spot with 25-34 seats, while for the Congress, the poll trend is a reprisal of its mortifying electoral performance in 2014. Congress party’s presence is seen diminishing to 12-15 seats.

A collective prediction of Kanak News and News18 Odia for the Odisha Assembly Election 2019 projects BJD’s win. On the other hand, the BJP may add more to its 2014 tally by 16 seats, which comes up to 26 of the 147-seat assembly. Congress, on the other hand, may manage to win only 12 seats, a drop of four seats less than what it had won in the 2014 polls. The other parties will collectively win 24 seats in Odisha.

Among the main candidates in Odisha, Naveen Patnaik contested in two seats – Hinjili in Ganjam district and Bijepur in Bargarh. Senior Congress leader Narasingha Mishra contested from Bolangir assembly seat, while BJP’s legislature party leader KV Singhdeo is contested from Patnagarh.

Before the gradual rise of Biju Janata Dal (BJD) – formed by Biju Patnaik and his son Naveen Patnaik, the political arena was dominated by the Congress.

The upsurge of Congress party in the state as the only secular, progressive force in Odisha was countered by the BJD, which has managed to gain a majority for the last three consecutive terms. The BJP has also made its presence felt in the state, and is considered an important political party in Odisha.

The regional parties apart from BJD in the state are Jharkhand Mukti Morcha (JMM), All India Trinamool Congress (AITC), Janata Dal(United), Lok Jan Shakti Party (LJP), Revolutionary Socialist Party (RSP), Samajwadi Party (SP).

Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP), Communist Party of India (CPI), Communist Party of India, Marxist (CPM), Indian National Congress (INC) and Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) are the national parties in Odisha at present.?

Odisha, earlier known as Orissa, has a rich and varied political tradition. From the ancient times, the state has remained politically active. However, Odisha’s political prominence was heightened after it was granted complete statehood in 1950. Odisha has a 147-member strong Vidhan Sabha.

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‘Was expected, it is people’s victory,’ says Jaganmohan Reddy

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Amaravati: With his YSR Congress heading for a landslide victory in the Assembly and Lok Sabha elections in Andhra Pradesh, party president Y S Jaganmohan Reddy Thursday termed it as people’s victory.

He also said the YSRC’s victory was expected. “I sincerely thank the people who overwhelmingly voted for YSRC and blessed it. I also thank them for exercising their franchise in large numbers and enhanced the value of democracy,” Jaganmohan Reddy said in a Facebook post.

“I will live up to the expectations of the people,” he promised.

 

According to the trends, YSRC is leading in over 150 seats of the total 175 in the State.

The party is leading in 23 Lok Sabha seats, while the TDP in two.

Telangana Chief Minister K Chandrasekhar Rao called Reddy over phone and congratulated him over the YSRC’s thumping win in the general elections. Wishing Reddy all the best, Rao hoped he would lead Andhra Pradesh further on the path of progress.

Later, talking to the media at his residence here, the YSRC chief congratulated Prime Minister Narendra Modi over the BJP’s stupendous performance in the Lok Sabha polls.

Reddy asserted that his fight for securing special category status for Andhra Pradesh would continue. He declined to speak about Congress president Rahul Gandhi.

Meanwhile, the YSRC Legislature Party will meet here on May 25 to formally elect Jaganmohan Reddy as its leader, party sources said. The sources said Reddy will take oath as Chief Minister in the temple-town of Tirupati on May 30.

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BJP loses Parrikar’s Panaji Assembly seat to Congress

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Panaji: Congress’ Atanasio Monserratte on Thursday wrested Panaji Assembly seat, held by the late chief minister Manohar Parrikar, from the BJP and with a margin of over 1,775 votes in the by-poll held simultaneously with the Lok Sabha elections.

The Panaji Assembly seat became vacant after the demise of former Goa chief minister Manohar Parrikar, who held the seat for nearly two-and-a-half decades since 1994.

The BJP had fielded Siddharth Kunkolienkar to retain the seat.

 

Goa Assembly has a strength of 40 members out of which BJP currently has 12 legislators and enjoys the support of legislators from Maharashtrawadi Gomantak Party (MGP), Vijay Sardesai of the Goa Forward Party (GFP) and three independents. GFP and MGP each have three MLAs.

Congress, on the other hand, has 15 MLAs in the house till now.

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