President Barack Obama's administration is working on a deal to build fighter jets in India, just as President-elect Donald Trump is vowing to keep jobs in America, The Washington Post reports.
If the deal goes through, the Indian government would manufacture F-16 Fighting Falcons and F/A-18 Super Hornets to replace its aging fleet of Russian-made fighters. Both Lockheed Martin and Boeing have made proposals to the Indian government.
Lockheed Martin would move its entire production from Texas to India in the deal, which would make India the only producer of the F-16 in the world. The U.S. military is cutting its own use of the plane for more modern F-35s, but is continuing to make it for sale to other countries.
But Lockheed Martin and Boeing said the move would not result in a net loss of American jobs and would also increase employment in India.
Approximately 300 jobs from Texas would be transferred to the same plant's F-35 line while others could apply for jobs making the F-35, Lockheed officials told the Post. Some jobs might be lost by retirement or attrition.
"I see this as a great opportunity for all parties involved," Lockheed's Randy Howard said. "It doesn't take jobs away from the U.S., it extends existing jobs, and not just for Fort Worth but for many other companies around the U.S. that build parts for the F-16.
But District Lodge 776 International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers Earnest Boone said workers in Texas are concerned.
Trump's vow to keep jobs in America have many involved in the talks worried it might fall through.
"What will be the U.S. policy posture now that the new president-elect is in the mix?" a high-level official at an American defense firm in India told the Post. "Is he going to continue the policy of engaging in India on co-production and co-development? All of those are unknown at this point."
Bigger worries, however, come from within India.
Pushan Das, a fellow at the Observer Research Foundation in Delhi, said the country has to decide whether "India wants to be seen as close to the United States and building U.S. fighter aircraft, or does it want to be more politically neutral and choose a partner like Sweden, given the fact that New Delhi needs to manage its relationship with Russia and China."
India also is typically slow in defense procurement as well, the Post notes, and has limited budgets, making it unlikely such a deal would be made soon.
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