Lockheed Martin unveils the new F-21 fighter jet during Aereo India 2019

Lockheed Martin unveils F-21 India
Lockheed Martin unveils the new F-21 fighter jet during Aereo India 2019.

February 20, 2019 - The American aerospace company Lockheed Martin unveiled the new F-21 multirole fighter plane during the biggest Asian airshow "Aero India 2019", currently underway in Bangalore.

The company, which had previously offered its F-16 Block 70 fighter jet, said the F-21 is specifically configured for the Indian Air Force and provides unmatched ‘Make in India’ opportunities and advanced future airpower to the nation. Lockheed  Martin will partner with the Indian company Tata Advanced Systems to build the plane on site.

According to Lockheed Martin, the F-21 is different inside and outside [compared to the F-16 Block 70]. The main notable differences between the two variants are the single large display inside the cockpit similar to that of the F-35 - the Block 70 has 3 different displays -, the big dorsal spine to accomodate electronic equipments and the refueling probe.

The announcement of the new aircraft follows the multi-billion dollar request sent by India to introduce 114 new fighter jets under the Medium Multi-Role Combat Aircraft (MMRCA) program. The F-21 will have to compete with Boeing F/A-18E/F Super Hornet, Dassault Rafale, Eurofighter Typhoon, Saab Gripen E, and Russians MiG-35 Fulcrum and Su-35 Flanker.

The U.S. company has proposed the F-16 instead of the F-35 because it is not interested to start a production line for its fifth generation aircraft in India and therefore it could not guarantee a package that includes a massive industrial commitment to New Dheli.


The F-21 is based on the latest variant of the F-16, called F-16 Block 70 or F-16V. The F-16V configuration includes several enhancements such as an Active Electronically Scanned Array (AESA) radar, a modern commercial off-the-shelf (COTS)-based avionics subsystem, a large-format, high-resolution display; and a high-volume, high-speed data bus. In addition, the operational capabilities are improved through a Link-16 Theater Data Link, Sniper Advanced Targeting Pod, advanced weapons, precision GPS navigation, and the Automatic Ground Collision Avoidance System (Auto GCAS). In addition, it boasts an advanced engine and can carry conformal fuel tanks. Taiwan and Greece are the first nations to have opted to upgrade their F-16s to the advanced F-16V standard. 

Written by Matteo Sanzani

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