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PM Modi US visit: Big defence boost for India as HAL inks deal to produce F414 fighter jet engines

It is worth mentioning GE Aerospace has been operating in India for more than four decades with wide engagement in the industry including engines, avionics, services, engineering, manufacturing, and local sourcing.

Written By: Ajeet Kumar @Ajeet1994 New Delhi Updated on: June 22, 2023 17:11 IST
GE Aerospace signs MOU with HAL to produce fighter jet
Image Source : AP/GE GE Aerospace signs MOU with HAL to produce fighter jet engines for Indian Air Force

As Prime Minister Narendra Modi embarked on a three-day visit to the United States, India's military strength has been empowered to the next level as the two democratic nations signed mega deals on jet engine technology and the purchase of high-altitude drones. Although the project was finalised days before the scheduled first "The State" visit of the Indian Prime Minister to America-- when US Defence Secretary Lloyd Austin and his Indian counterpart Defence Minister Rajnath Singh met earlier in the first week of this month in the national capital-- Modi and his Excellency Joe Biden inked the project today.

According to the deal, US multinational conglomerate company, General Electric (GE) will manufacture F414 jet engines in India. The US Congress had earlier approved the deal wherein the main highlight was the transfer of technology to Indian firm- Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL). It will help New Delhi to produce fighter jet engines for Indian Air Force.

Major boost to India's Mk2 program

According to the statement released by GE on Thursday, the agreement includes the potential joint production of GE Aerospace’s F414 engines in India. The effort is part of the Indian Air Force’s Light Combat Aircraft Mk2 program.

“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. “We are proud to play a role in advancing President Biden and Prime Minister Modi’s vision of closer coordination between the two nations. Our F414 engines are unmatched and will offer important economic and national security benefits for both countries as we help our customers produce the highest quality engines to meet the needs of their military fleet.”

GE Aerospace collaborated with India four decades ago

It is worth mentioning GE Aerospace has been operating in India for more than four decades with wide engagement in the industry including engines, avionics, services, engineering, manufacturing, and local sourcing. Today’s agreement will advance GE Aerospace’s earlier commitment to build 99 engines for the Indian Air Force as part of the LCA Mk2 program.

Why India has chosen F414 engines?

The F414-INS6 was selected by India’s Aeronautical Development Agency (ADA) to power the MKII version of the Tejas Light Combat Aircraft. The F414G, the single-engine variant of the proven F414-GE-400, has been chosen to power Saab’s Gripen E/F aircraft.

According to the company, it claims that the engine has advanced technology features such as a Full Authority Digital Electronic Control (FADEC) that improves operational characteristics of the F414 engine, while advanced materials and cooling techniques improve performance and extend component life. 

Features of F414 engine: Over 5 million hours of flight experience 

The F414 Enhanced Engine incorporates additional technical advancements that can be retrofitted into the F414 to provide improved component capability for a significant reduction in ownership costs, or up to a 20 percent increase in thrust with improved specific fuel consumption.  The F414 is also a potential power plant for emerging platforms such as the Korean KF-X and the Indian Advanced Medium Combat Aircraft, as well as other potential applications. The company claims it has more than 5 million flight hours.

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 of decreasing 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 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 becomes more assertive in the Indo-Pacific. 

Also Read: Modi US visit LIVE UPDATES: PM meets President Joe Biden, First Lady Jill bearing special gifts

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