Jet engines, armed drones for India likely in Modi-Biden talks

US cleared joint production of GE's F 414 jet engines in India giving a "new" direction to ties between two countries senior US White House.

Washington:  The US has cleared the joint production of GE’s F 414 jet engines in India giving a “new” direction to ties between the two countries, a senior US White House official told reporters on the eve of President Joe Biden’s official state dinner for Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

India will announce the purchase of MQ 9B armed Sea Guardians, the official said, marking the end of protracted negotiations that lasted almost seven years.

“The nature, the depth and breadth of our deliverables for this is unprecedented,” said one of the officials who previewed the meeting for reporters.

“I think the Indians, to be honest, have been surprised and thrilled by the steps that we’ve been able to take to remove bureaucratic roadblocks from achieving this goal. So I think we fully recognise that it’s going to be necessary to follow through,” one of the senior administration officials said.

India will use these jet engines for its second generation of Tejas fighter jets. The current aircraft use GE’s F404 engines, which are assembled in the India. The F414s will be co-produced in India by GE with India’s Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL). These engines are being used by US American F/A-18 Super Hornets.

The MQ-9 Sea Guardian drones by General Atomics have been on India’s wishlist for years and the Indian Navy has since 2020 been using two MQ-9A drones in a company-owned and company-operated lease agreement since 2020.

The joint statement that will be issued by the two sides is also likely to include the reinstatement of preferential trading benefits for Indian exports to the US under a scheme called the Generalized System of Preferences, which was suspended by the Trump administration in 2019, after it could not extract market access concessions from India. Under this scheme, certain Indian goods enter the US without tariff and at the time of suspension these US imports from India were worth over $6 billion.

The two sides are expected to announce a slew of joint initiatives and agreements after Biden’s meeting with Modi Thursday morning, in a new spirit of cooperation between the two sides that was described by officials who were part of the negotiations as “mature”.

The two leadesr are also expected to announce a master ship repair agreement in which US navy ships will go for repairs to Indian shipyards.

The US is looking to wean India from Russia military supplies. “India is actively engaged in diversifying away from Russian military equipment … It is not just the United States that is engaged in that effort of diversification. It’s our allies and partners in France, in Great Britain and Israel and elsewhere that are actively supporting efforts to secure India’s defence capabilities more generally,” one of the senior administration officials said.

A slew of collaborations in the field of technology are expected including strengthening critical minerals supply chains, advancing telecommunication capabilities and AI.

Other agreements will include space. NASA and the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) will work together on human spaceflight.

Prime Minister Modi had a private dinner with President Joe Biden at the White House on Wednesday night, ahead of their meetings on Thursday. Modi was accompanied by National Security Adviser Ajit Doval and Foreign Secretary Vinay Kwatra.

The two leaders will also address a news conference and the officials said Prime Minister Modi is expected to take questions in a departure from past practice.

The US officials also said that Biden will raise human rights, democracy and press freedom with Modi but with “respect” and as a friend.

The Prime Minister will address a joint session of US Congress later Thursday, which will be his second time.

He will then join President Biden and First Lady Jill Biden for a state dinner, which is expected to be attended by the who’s who of the Indian American community.

Leave A Reply

Your email address will not be published.