Our chances of getting a new kind of F-16 just dramatically shrank. The Indian air force recently signaled it would cancel a tender for foreign-made warplanes. It was that contest that motivated American plane-maker Lockheed Martin LMT to develop a unique, highly-advanced F-16 variant the company called the “F-21.”
The Indian air force in 2019 announced it would spend up to $15 billion buying 114 fighters. The plan was for the new planes to replace old MiG-21s and fly alongside European-designed Jaguars, French Mirage 2000s and Rafales, Russian MiG-29s and Su-30s and India’s own indigenous Tejas Light Combat Aircraft in what Lockheed described as “the world’s largest fighter aircraft ecosystem.”
The F-21, Boeing BA’s F/A-18E/F, the Rafale, the European Typhoon, the Swedish Gripen E and the Russian MiG-35 and Su-35 all were contenders. Indian companies would have assembled the new jets on license.