General Electric has inked a deal with India’s state-owned Hindustan Aeronautics (HAL) to make fighter jet engines for the Indian Air Force.
The US aviation and energy giant signed a memorandum of understanding with HAL on Thursday, which includes the potential joint production of GE Aerospace’s F414 engines in India.
“GE Aerospace continues to work with the US government to receive the necessary export authorisation for this,” the company said in a press release.
The development comes at a time when Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi is on an official state visit to the United States.
Washington is working to deepen ties with the world’s largest democracy and sees deeper military-to-military and technology ties with India as a key counterweight to China’s dominance in the region.
India is the world’s largest arms importer and depends on Russia for nearly half its military supplies. The country has bought fighter jets, tanks, nuclear submarines and an aircraft carrier from Russia over many decades.
New Delhi has frustrated Washington by participating in military exercises with Russia and increasing purchases of the country’s crude oil, a key source of funding for Moscow’s war in Ukraine.
“This is a historic agreement made possible by our longstanding partnership with India and HAL,” the release quoted GE chief H Lawrence Culp Jr as saying. “We are proud to play a role in advancing President Biden and Prime Minister Modi’s vision of closer coordination between the two nations,” he added.
India keen to get know-how
Thursday’s agreement will advance GE Aerospace’s earlier commitment to build 99 engines for the Indian Air Force as part of the LCA Mk2 programme, the company said.
GE said it will also keep up its collaboration with the Indian government on its AMCA Mk2 engine program.
State-backed Hindustan Aeronautics previously said it planned to use GE’s 414 engine for a second generation of light-combat aircraft and it was in talks over domestic production of the engines.
While GE has offered some transfer of technology to HAL, which will produce the engines as a licensed manufacturer, India has previously pushed for more technology to be shared, according to one of the people with knowledge of the conversations.
India is keen to get the know-how to make aircraft engines. Though it can manufacture fighter jets domestically, it lacks the ability to produce engines to power them.
There was no information yet in whether GE had agreed to India’s requests.
HAL is using a lighter GE engine for the 83 light combat aircraft it is manufacturing for the Indian air force. However, India intends to produce more than 350 fighter jets for its air force and navy over the next two decades, which could be powered by the GE 414.
- Reuters, with additional inputs from Vishakha Saxena