Lockheed Martin will offer the Martin-Baker Mk18 ejection seat as a candidate for the F-21, in an effort to deliver a more competitive proposal for an Indian air force requirement for 114 fighters.

If confirmed, the IN18E seat would replace the Collins Aerospace ACES II from the original F-16 – Lockheed has rebranded the fighter as the ‘F-21’ for the Indian bid.

Lockheed F-21

Source: Lockheed Martin

Lockheed has rebranded the F-16 as the ‘F-21’ in India’s competition for for 114 fighters

The IN18E seat features new technology to meet the latest aircrew physiological requirements. Specifically, it enables safe ejection for pilots wearing helmet-mounted displays.

With over 1,000 seats in service on eight aircraft types, the UK company is also in discussions with India’s Aeronautical Development Agency (ADA) for IN16G seats for the Hindustan Aeronautics Tejas Mk-2.

Martin-Baker also proposes its Mk16 or Mk18 seats for the AMCA (Advanced Medium Combat Aircraft) and TEDBF (Twin Engine Deck Based Fighter), which are being developed by the ADA.

The company will deliver 93 IN16G seats (to equip 73 single seaters and 10 twin-seaters) for the Tejas Mk-1A programme. It is awaiting a formal contract, though it has been in discussions to ensure that deliveries begin within a year of contract signature, says Steve Roberts, head of business development at Martin-Baker.

Martin-Baker is in the process of completing an order for 51 IN16G seats for Tejas Mk-1 fighters, with 38 seats delivered and the remaining 13 to be delivered by the end of 2021.

It has also set up a facility in Chakan, near Pune, with the Indian firm Right Choice Aviation, to provide depot support for BAE Systems Hawk ejection seats with the Indian navy. This facility was opened in February 2020 and awaits the first contract for ejection seat depot maintenance.