As Modi & Biden meet, a flurry of new US and India deals
Prime Minister Narendra Modi and US President Joe Biden will announce on Thursday a mega deal worth over three billion dollars on the purchase of General Atomics MQ-9 “Reaper” armed drones also known as ‘Predator’ by India, the White House has said. The two leaders may also announce another important deal for the joint production of the G-414 fighter jet engine in India in collaboration with Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL) in India. These engines will be used for the indigenously designed Tejas light combat aircraft (LAC).
GE Aerospace inks a pact with HAL
In a landmark announcement, GE Aerospace on Thursday said it has inked a pact with Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL) to jointly produce fighter jet engines for Indian Air Force’s Light Combat Aircraft (LCA)-Mk-II — Tejas. “The agreement includes the potential joint production of GE Aerospace’s F414 engines in India, and GE Aerospace continues to work with the US government to receive the necessary export authorization for this,” the US firm said in a statement in Washington.
It described the Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with the HAL as a “key element” in strengthening defence cooperation between India and the US. “This is a historic agreement made possible by our longstanding partnership with India and HAL,” said H Lawrence Culp Jr, Chairman, and Chief Executive Officer of GE and CEO of GE Aerospace.
Major defence agreements
Meanwhile, the White House said the summit between Prime Minister Modi and President Biden will result in some major defence agreements, including an unprecedented deal on co-producing jet engines. The White House also has bilateral ties that have entered the next generation.
“The US-India defence partnership has been growing stronger through the years but we’ve now entered the next generation defence partnership,” a senior administration official said hours ahead of the meeting between the two leaders. The official said the summit is expected to yield three major outcomes regarding defence relationships, adding that the first one is an “unprecedented” jet engine for coproduction. “This is a trailblazing initiative to manufacture F414 engines in India and will enable greater transfer of US jet engine technology than ever before,” the senior administration official said.
The second thing is trusted ship repair, the official said. “The United States Navy has established master ship repair agreements that are going to result in cost-effective and time-saving sustainment for US military operations across multiple theatres by allowing US Navy ships to undertake to service and even major repair and Indian shipyard,” the official said.
“One is already in effect, and we have three more in the hopper. And then on the Defence Innovation Bridge, the India-US Defence acceleration ecosystem, also called Indus X,” the official said. Inaugurated on June 21, it is a network of university incubator corporate think tanks and private investment stakeholders.
“It is going to facilitate joint innovation on defence technologies and accelerate the integration of India’s budding private sector defence industry with the US defence sector,” said the official. “This is genuinely exciting as we see our companies and startups working together in ways that are better for India and better for the US,” the official said.
Deal for armed drones
As regards the deal for armed drones, on June 15, the Ministry of Defence approved the procurement of 30 MQ-9B Predator armed drones from the US under a government-to-government framework. While the Indian Navy will have 15 Predator drones, the Army and IAF will share the remaining drones.
The General Atomics MQ-9 “Reaper” can carry 500 percent more payload and has nine times the horsepower in comparison to the earlier MQ-1 Predator. Moreover, MQ-9 UAV provides long endurance, persistent surveillance, and strike capability for the warfighter.
“With regards to the Sea Guardian, Yes. I think that’s going to be announced by the leaders tomorrow. India is committing to the purchase of the MQ-9 Reaper armed UAVs,” a senior administration official said ahead of the meeting between the two leaders. “We are delighted about that because I think that’s going to substantially grow India’s ISR capability which I think is incredibly important and useful to them, both on their posts, above the sea, and on their borders,” said the official who spoke on condition of anonymity.
The official said the joint statement will have some specific initiatives on the US side to streamline and support some of the innovations bureaucratically that have existed and have inhibited some of the deals in the past.
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