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F-16s Shot Down Saga: Why US Can’t Afford War-Industry Loss?

An American news publication Foreign Policy in an exclusive story, “Did India shoot down a Pakistani jet? US count says No.”, contradicts India’s claim of taking down an F-16s aircraft. It highlights, “India’s claim that one of its fighter pilots shot down a Pakistani F-16 fighter jet in an aerial battle between the two nuclear powers in February appears to be wrong. Two senior U.S. defense officials with direct knowledge of the situation told Foreign Policy that U.S. personnel recently counted Islamabad’s F-16s and found none missing.”

Lara Seligman, the defense correspondent for Foreign Policy has further stated that ‘one of the senior U.S. defense officials with direct knowledge of the count said that Pakistan invited the United States to physically count its F-16 planes after the incident as part of an end-user agreement signed when the foreign military sale was finalized. Generally, in such agreements, the United States requires the receiving country to allow U.S. officials to inspect the equipment regularly to ensure it is accounted for and protected.’

The simmering tensions between India and Pakistan after the Pulwama attack took a completely new horizon as the two nuclear-armed nations got involved in an aerial dogfight, a month ago.

Post Balakot air strike, Indian authorities claimed that Pakistan’s fighter jet F-16s was shot down by the MiG-21 Bison piloted by the IAF Wing Commander Abhinandan Varthaman, who was captured on the enemy’s soil later released by Pakistan to de-escalate the tension after some international pressure.

Islamabad refuted India’s claims and always maintained not a single US made F-16s was used in the aerial battle on 27th February. Lockheed Martin’s F-16s is a 4th generation multi-role combat fighter aircraft with over 3000 fleets in more than 25 countries. It is s blue-chip brand in the war industry.

A $15 Billion Fighter Contest Angle

Amid growing concerns of the aging fleet, has been opined to replace old Soviet-era Vietnam War MiG aircraft with advanced fourth and fifth generation combat aircraft. 

Lockheed Martin (LMT), Boeing (BA), Saab, Dassault Aviation and Russia's United Aircraft Corp are all in the race for the contract worth $15 billion. It could be a matter of reputation and image for a blue-chip stock like Lockheed Martin if it gets the tag of being hit by a 3rd generation MiG bison in an aerial battle.

Lockheed Martin offers India an F-21. But the defense experts are opined the F-21 "appears to be an enhanced F-16 Block 70. Boeing came up with F/A-18 Super Hornet fighter jet.

The US war industry dons a reputation to leverage upon the escalating tensions between two countries and make this field an all-time profitable industry. While the Indian media is going hullabaloo after the Foreign Policy revelations, it’s high time to check the repeat offenses of the United States carried to the Third World countries. 

Meanwhile, Lockheed Martin suffers a dip in its shares while the news of ‘F-16s shot down’ hits the world media. Its shares dipped to 297.96 USD. In 2018, according to the New York Stock Exchange, LMT suffered a fall of 18% in its shares. Last month, Lockheed Martin shares closed flat at 309.47 while others enjoyed a take-off.

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