UPDATE: Loren Thompson of the Lexington Institute think tank and a consultant to Lockheed Martin says he has been told by company officials that both the F/A-18 and F-16 have been dropped from consideration by India.
And here's Lockheed's not very informative but perhaps telling statement: "The US Government has informed Lockheed Martin that they have received a letter from the Indian MOD concerning the MMRCA competition. We understand that the US Government is working on a response to the letter from the Indian government. Lockheed Martin remains committed to our relationship with the Indian Air Force, Ministry of Defense and the other Services. Lockheed Martin has several world-class products offering the most advanced and reliable technology we believe is suitable for India's security needs."
Reports out of India today indicate that country's government has narrowed down the list of planes it is considering buying as the next next front line fighter jet and that both Lockheed Martin's F-16 and the Boeing F/A-18 Super Hornet have been eliminated from the competition.
If that is the case it could mean the days of the F-16 being produced in Fort Worth are nearing an end. Company officials said in their conference call Tuesday they only have orders booked to carry production through mid-2013.
The very good DewLine blog has more here. About the only thing official on the subject at this point is that Sweden's Saab has confirmed that it has been eliminated. But one blog reports it has confirmed that India has asked two bidders, France's Dassault and the European Eurofighter consortium to extend the terms of their bids.
Lockheed has not yet commented to the Star-Telegram. A Boeing spokesman said he had not heard anything official from his corporate ranks.
But Washington defense analyst Loren Thompson, who has many good sources in the world of defense contractors, said he has heard similar but unofficial reports.
"My understanding is the F-16 and F/A-18 have both been disqualified by India," Thompson said. "It may just be a negotiating tactic. They've (India) done stuff like this before."
India has for years been tantalizing fighter jet manufacturers with its plans to spend something on the order of $10 billion to buy 126 Medium Multi Role Combat Aircraft.