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India-US jet engine deal is revolutionary, will provide a great capability to Delhi: Defence Secretary Austin

Last year in June when PM Modi visited the United States and met President Biden, he signed a memorandum of understanding with General Electric to make fighter jet engines for the Indian Air Force in collaboration with Hindustan Aeronautics.

Edited By: Ajeet Kumar @Ajeet1994 Washington Updated on: April 18, 2024 8:24 IST
US Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin
Image Source : AP US Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin

Washington: The India-US deal to jointly produce fighter jet engines for the Indian Air Force is revolutionary, US Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin told lawmakers on Wednesday.

The landmark deal was announced last June during the historic Official State Visit of Prime Minister Narendra Modi to the US. General Electric signed a memorandum of understanding with Hindustan Aeronautics to make fighter jet engines for the IAF.

Austin told the House Appropriations Subcommittee that the United States has a “great relationship” with India.

“We recently have enabled India to produce a jet weapon, a jet engine in India. And that's kind of revolutionary. That will provide a great capability to them. We are also co-producing an armoured vehicle with India," he said.

"So, all of these things, when you add them up, are probably more than we have seen happen in that region in a very, very long time,” Austin said.

Why the defence deal is crucial for India?

As of now, India's armed forces have long relied heavily on Russian weapons and military equipment amid the current geopolitical setting, it is obvious the status quo is unlikely to change in the near future. Currently, India's fighter jets include Russia's Sukhoi Su-30, MiG-29, and S-400 air defence missile system. However, amid the ongoing Russia-Ukraine war, it seems difficult for Moscow to deliver the remaining on the promised date. 

Besides, Russia, New Delhi has acquired weapons from both Moscow's rival-- the US, and other European nations, including France. Despite this, the Indian defence ministry still has more than 50% of critical fighting systems from Moscow.

As India convinced the US administration to share fighter jet engine technology, New Delhi seems in the mood to decrease its dependence on Russian war equipment noting the fact that Russian war equipment did not yield results in the ongoing war. 

Although both India and the US involved in the defence deal for decades, the latest deal involves the co-production of jet engines, even in the absence of a formal treaty between the two nations. Moreover, the transfer of technology will also enhance the "Make in India" initiative. The significant deal is crucial amid the fact China has become more assertive in the Indo-Pacific. 

(With inputs from agency)

Also Read: Big defence boost for India as HAL inks deal to produce F414 fighter jet engines

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