Both the Advanced Medium Combat Aircraft, which is now under construction and will have twin engines, and the LCA (Light Combat Aircraft) TEJAS MK-2 will be powered by the India-specific GE-414 INS6 engine, which will be made in India

President Joe Biden’s administration has promised to fast-track the approval the General Electric Company of the United States sought to produce in India the engines to power the combat aircraft manufactured by Hindustan Aeronautics Limited.

The Biden Administration also agreed to work with the American Congress to lower the barriers for the export of High-Performance Computing technology and source code from the US to India.

The White House confirmed that the United States government had received “an application from General Electric to jointly produce jet engines that could power jet aircraft operated and produced indigenously by India”.

“The United States commits to an expeditious review of this application,” it added in a fact sheet issued after a meeting between Biden’s National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan and his counterpart in the Government of India, Ajit Doval, in Washington DC late Tuesday.

The GE is likely to collaborate with the Defence Research and Development Organization (DRDO) of the Government of India and another manufacturer in India to produce the F414-INS6 engines for the TEJAS MK-2, which would be developed by the HAL to replace the Mirage-2000, the Jaguar and the MiG 29 fighter jets of the Indian Air Force (IAF) fleet. The GE may transfer technologies to allow the production of several key components of the engine in India, according to a source aware of the discussion between New Delhi and Washington DC on bilateral defence technology cooperation.

Sullivan told journalists after his meeting with Doval in Washington DC that both sides would strive for “fast and ambitious progress” on setting the stage for the US company manufacturing jet engines in India.

The two sides also agreed to develop a new bilateral Defence Industrial Cooperation Roadmap to accelerate technological cooperation between both countries for joint development and production, not only of jet engines but also of munitions and other systems. They agreed to enhance long-term research and development cooperation, with a focus on identifying maritime security and intelligence surveillance reconnaissance operational use cases.

They will launch a new “Innovation Bridge” that would connect the defence start-ups of India and the US.

Doval, Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s National Security adviser (NSA), is currently on a tour to Washington DC. He and his counterpart, Sullivan, on Tuesday led the first dialogue within the framework of the US-India initiative on Critical and Emerging Technology (iCET), which was announced by Modi and Biden during a meeting in Tokyo in May 2022.

The Biden Administration agreed to launch the new initiative after New Delhi had repeatedly pointed out that India had to rely more on Russia only because the US and the other western nations had in the past declined to share with it advanced military hardware and critical technologies. The Modi Government had put forward the argument in response to criticism over its refusal to join the US and the rest of the West in criticising Russia for its military aggression against Ukraine.

Geopolitical factors like China’s aggression against its disputed boundary with India, its belligerence against other nations in the Indo-Pacific region and its growing strategic synergy with Russia in the wake of President Vladimir Putin’s war against Ukraine played a key role in prompting India and the US to agree to foster an open, accessible and secure technology ecosystem, based on mutual trust and confidence, reinforcement of democratic values and democratic institutions.

“The China-Russia factors are real, but so is the idea of building a deep, democratic ecosystem of high technology (between India and the US,” Sullivan said, adding: “So, geopolitics doesn’t sit off to the side, but it’s not a comprehensive explanation for what’s at work here.”

The meeting between Doval and Sullivan saw India and the US underlining “their commitment to working to resolve issues related to regulatory barriers and business and talent mobility in both countries through a standing mechanism under iCET”.

The two sides also agreed on signing a new Implementation Arrangement for a Research Agency Partnership between the National Science Foundation of the US and the science agencies of India to expand international collaboration in a range of areas — including artificial intelligence, quantum technologies, and advanced wireless — to build a robust innovation ecosystem between our countries. They also agreed on establishing a joint India-US Quantum Coordination Mechanism with participation from industry, academia, and government to facilitate research and industry collaboration.