Hyderabad: Tata Lockheed Martin Aerostructures Limited (TLMAL), a joint venture between $50 billion Lockheed Martin and Tata Advanced Systems Limited (TASL), is gearing up to roll out the first F16 wing by October 2020 from its Hyderabad facility.
The company is currently building the prototype for the wings of the aircraft, which flies in 26 countries.
Tata Lockheed Martin Aerostructures Limited chief operating officer Abhay Paranjape told Telangana Today, “Our goal is to be ready with the first F16 wing by October next year. We are going to make the wings in the existing facility. We are building the prototype now and once we build and prove it, we will go for bidding for orders. We will have a capacity to make 3-4 wings a month in the steady state. We have already completed the 3D modeling for the F16 wings.”
The company will be roping in MSMEs in the country to supply structural components such as wiring and harnesses. “We have gone out with bids and we have selected certain companies that are building parts. First set of parts are going to come in the next month. We will start sub-assembly and then take up assembly by January 2020. Rest of the aircraft will be made in the US,” he informed.
When asked if the company will be serving F16 aircraft to the Indian Air Force as part of the 114 combat aircraft programme, he said, if there is a potential to serve, the company will surely serve. “We are offering the F-21 which is specifically configured for the Indian Air Force. The F-21 provides unmatched ‘Make in India’ opportunities and strengthens India’s path to an advanced airpower future and signals a significant development in US-India relations.”
Hyderabad has a strong defence ecosystem for manufacturing. TLMAL in its Adibatla facility near Hyderabad will focus on composites, metal-to-metal bonding and assembly. Using these, the company is going to bid for multiple areas and structures catering to defence, commercial and transport sectors.
The joint venture company, which has 520 employees in Hyderabad, is also building empennages (tail assembly) for C130 J military transport aircraft. Out of 2,300 parts that go into the empennage, about 2,100 are being built indigenously here. The company is building 2-3 empennages each month, and has built about 120 so far for worldwide use.
The company which has created the metal-to-metal bonding facility in Hyderabad is getting ready now to cater to aircraft makers such as Boeing and Airbus.
Fuel tank transport
TLMAL is also looking at building Bulk Fuel Tank Transport (BFTT) to transport fuel or oil (up to 5,000 gallons) for vehicles through C130 J at times of medical emergencies or natural disasters. This is the first design and build programme in India by the private sector. There is demand in India, Africa, Indonesia, Canada and Netherlands. The first prototype will be ready by February-March 2020.
The company will talk to the Indian Air Force as they have 12 aircraft. The company is also providing maintenance support for C130 J.
Going forward, TLMAL is also looking at structural repair, electronics, system and integration repair and harnesses for not only Indian Air Force but for the global defence forces.