F-35 Fighter Jet Price Drops Make F-16, Gripen Unattractive For India

The price of the Lockheed Martin F-35 Stealth fighter jet has fallen below the $100 million apiece mark eroding the global market for older generation aircraft such as the F-16, Boeing F/A-18 and SAAB Gripen.

F-35’s price has come down from around US$200 million apiece to US$100 million in the last 3 years. “The next lot of F-35 aircraft (LRIP 10) reflects a $728M reduction in the total price when compared to Lot 9 and marks the first time the price for an F-35A is below $100M,” a Lockheed Martin statement said earlier this week.

In this scenario, the ‘Make-in-India-and-export-to-the-world’ business model proposed by the Indian government to Lockheed Martin, Boeing and SAAB for the F-16, F/A-18 and Gripen respectively begs for a strong business case. The three manufacturers, in their media pitches have been talking about meeting the Indian Air Force requirement for hundreds of aircraft and hardly anything concrete about the international market for a made-in-India aircraft.

Lockheed Martin has not sold any new F-16V fighter jets, but has received billions of dollars worth orders for upgrading older generation F-16s to the Viper or “V” version which has an APG-83 Scalable Agile Beam Radar (SABR), a new mission computer, a high-speed 1Gb databus, and a 6- by 8-inch center pedestal display.

Greece, on Tuesday decided to upgrade their existing F-16 fleet to the Viper variant costing anywhere from $1.7 to $2 billion. Taiwan have also initiated upgrading the Republic of China Air Force’s (ROCAF) 144 F-16A/B Block-20 multi-role fighter aircraft to F-16V-standards in January this year.


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