By Staff Correspondent
In an unprecedented step, the US government has authorised the production of F414 jet engines on Indian soil. The landmark decision came about during Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s state visit to Washington DC, demonstrating a significant enhancement in US-India defence cooperation, even without an official alliance between the two nations.
The impending Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) between General Electric (GE) and Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL), which is in the process of being disclosed to the US Congress, has initiated this strategic move, according to highly placed sources.
This joint venture underlines the importance of the US-India partnership. It not only involves the co-production of jet engines but also includes the US sharing a considerable amount of classified jet engine technology with India, paving the way for an increasing tech transfer ratio.
Insiders deem this development as transformative for India, given the full access to the engine technology without any hidden facets. The manufacturing process in India will start with technology sharing of over 50%, with further increases expected throughout the production cycle.
The agreement also incorporates a flexible licensing arrangement that will allow India to gain possession of the engine designs and associated sensitive technology. This technology transfer denotes a significant departure from past US policy, which has historically refrained from authorising such wide-ranging tech transfers.
The US administration has secured the necessary executive approvals from the commerce, state, and defence departments in compliance with the International Traffic in Arms Regulations (ITAR). Notification processes to the Senate and House Armed Services and Foreign Relations Committees are presently underway.
While the full disclosure to Congress is projected to take several weeks, India’s strong bipartisan support in the US Congress is likely to expedite the process.
A Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) is slated to be signed between GE and HAL during PM Modi’s visit, thereby formalising the manufacturing agreement. The F414 jet engines produced through this collaboration will propel the Tejas MK 2 fighter aircraft, significantly amplifying India’s domestic defence capabilities.