New Delhi: In what could be a boost to India’s defence, the US State Department has notified the US Congress about the Biden Administration’s decision to manufacture GE-F 414 jet engines through full transfer of technology (ToT) route in India for Tejas Mk-2 aircraft to be produced by Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL). The notification was sent to Congress on July 28 and the deal will stand approved after 30 days as per requirement.
The MoU between GE and HAL was signed on June 22, in Washington during Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s three day visit to the US. It is understood that the US Congress will approve the engine manufacturing deal as it is in no way detrimental to American national security interests.
While the Modi government is tight-lipped about the entire deal, it is understood that the GE-F414 engines will be used to power the Tejas Mk-2, the AMCA Mk-1 and Twin Engine Deck Based Fighter (TEDBF) for Indian aircraft carrier developed by Aeronautical Development Agency (ADA) of the DRDO. It is learnt that at least 100 engines will be required to produce Tejas Mk-2 fighter with some 200 engines needed for twin engine AMCA Mk1- and TEDBF at the turn of this decade. The ADA is expected to develop the prototype of Tejas Mk-2 by the end of 2024 or early 2025 with the program going on as per schedule.
According to the joint statement issued at the end of PM Modi’s June visit to the US, both the leaders have committed their governments to working collaboratively and expeditiously to support the advancement of “this unprecedented co-production and technology transfer proposal.” While the LCA Mark I is powered by GE-404 engines, the much powerful GE-414 engine powers the multiple combat proven US F-18 multirole jet fighter.
Washington watchers said that the US Congress has a window of 30 days to raise clarifications if any to the deal and will be approved by the end of this month. Given that India-US are close allies and partners in QUAD and in the Indo-Pacific, the notification to US Congress is seen as a formality as the bilateral relationship has had bipartisan consensus since the turn of the century.
The GE-F414 deal was worked out by National Security Advisor Ajit Doval with his US counterpart Jake Sullivan during the inaugural dialogue of initiative on Critical and Emerging Technologies (iCET) on January 31, 2023 in Washington.