F-35 India Deal: Is India Acquiring F-35 Lightning II Fighter Aircraft from the US?

Has the Indian Air Force requested for a briefing by Lockheed Martin on F-35 Lightning II Joint Strike Fighter? According to a high-ranking US military official, US supports the selling of F-35 Lightning II aircraft to India, and India also has shown tremendous interest in testing the capabilities of F-35 Lightning II fifth generation, stealth fighter aircraft.

The US has not formally offered the F-35 Lightning II Fighter Aircraft to India, and any classified briefing would require clearance by the US Department of Defence and the US Department of State. According to Indian Media, there are reports that the Indian Air Force is keen to acquire up to 126 F-35 Lightning II Fighter Aircraft from the US after the deal for acquiring 126 French Dassault Rafale fighter aircraft crumbled.

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The Indian Air Force plans to add about 250 single-engine aircraft in the medium weight category over the next decade as it attempts to expand the squadrons from 33 to 42 by 2027. The F-35 Fighter Aircraft could be an interesting option for India compared to other bidders like Sweden’s Gripen, Eurofighter Typhoon and the American F-16’s.

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However, any F-35 deal between US and India would require the building of a local assembly line in India as planned under the framework Indian Defense Procurement Process to promote the production of high-tech defence hardware.

Since India is already working on the development of Fifth Generation Fighter Aircraft (FGFA) with Russia, it appears doubtful if the U.S would agree to produce the F-35 locally as this would include the transfer of sensitive defence technology to India.

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As of now, there are major doubts if India would be able to acquire the F-35 Fighter Aircraft from the US government, as they are more interested to push the F-16’s jets, instead of one of its most advanced fighter jets to India.