Congress clears strategic India-US defense deal

Washington: Months after United States’s defense giant GE Aeronautics signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with India’s Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL), the U.S. Congress has given clearance to the deal for manufacturing F-414 jet engines in India for HAL’s Light Combat Aircraft Tejas Mark 2. The MoU was signed during the two-day state visit of the Prime Minister Narendra Modi, earlier in June this year.

The Congress gave the Biden-led government its approval to pursue the GE jet engine deal with India, making the way for the execution of the agreement with Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL), which includes unprecedented technology transfer, jet engine manufacturing in India, along with licensing arrangements.

According to the process, the State Department notified the House and Senate Foreign Relations Committee on July 28. If, for 30 days after the notification, no Congressional representative or Senator objects, it is treated as assent.

It is pertinent to note that with India and the US signing this deal, India became the fifth country in the world to produce jet engines, joining the United States, Russia, France, and the United Kingdom.

As reported earlier, GE Aerospace would transfer 80% of its technology to India for the manufacture of F414 fighter jet engines under this agreement. Under the Transfer of Technology (ToT) provision, both the Advanced Medium Combat Aircraft, which is now under construction and will have twin engines, and the LCA (Light Combat Aircraft) Mark II will be powered by the India-specific GE-F414 INS6 engine, which will be introduced by Aeronautical Development Agency (ADA) early next year and enter service by the end of 2024.

The deal will not only bolster India’s military capabilities and expand defense production, the deal will also assist in replacing India’s aging fighter fleet.

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