Five major defence deals will be up for discussion during Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s visit to the United States beginning June 21 reported TimesNow. They are:

1. The US offer to upgrade the M-777 light howitzer to ensure it’s range increases.

2. The manufacture of the GE-414 aircraft engine in India under license.

3. The co-production of the Stryker armoured personnel carrier under the Make in India process.

4. The transfer of the Predator drones to India, if not as a direct sale, but through some other process.

5. The sale of 26 F-18 fighter aircraft for the INS Vikrant of the Indian Navy.

Highly-placed sources said these issues have already been under discussion. It will have to be seen which of these actually happen during this visit. In case there is interest in a particular deal on both sides, they can be carried over to US President

Joe Biden’s visit to New Delhi in September for the G-20 visit.


This 155mm light howitzer made by BAE Systems is ideal for the mountains. It has a minimum range of 30km and in certain conditions, it can go up to 40km. The US has raised the issue of increasing its range. It’s a question of coproduction, finding an Indian partner and signing an agreement. How quickly it can be done remains to be seen.


Even though the G-414 deal requires bipartisan support in the US Congress, both sides seem to be positive about the deal. It would amount to the US allowing licensed production of the engine in India. The would be for the indigenous Light Combat Aircraft that the Indian Air Force wants. It is the deal that is most likely to be announced.


The Stryker armoured personnel carrier is something the American side is pushing for. A tried and tested vehicle which can seat 10-12 people, can be manufactured in India. These could replace the aging Russian designed BMP-2 that the Indian Army’s mechanised infantry units have.


The Indian Navy has already taken 2 MQ-9 Predator B drones on lease and is happy enough with them to want more. The US wants India to have them, but it would have to be an outright sale, something increasingly rare in the age of atmanirbharata or self-reliance. There’s also the question of how keen the Army and Air Force are about the Predator B. Initially, there was talk of 10 each for the three services and then, six each and then, nothing. How this works out remains to be seen.


The Indian Navy seems to want the naval version of the French Rafale for the INS Vikrant, the new aircraft carrier. It’s something the Americans are aware of, but even then, India expects the Americans will make a pitch for the F-18. The reason why the Navy prefers the Rafale is simply compatibility. The IAF has 36 Rafales, which are very similar to their naval version. Any change in that decision would have to be made at the highest level.

During the recent visit by the US defence secretary, Lloyd Austin, procurement issues came up. The US, sources said, know that there are a large number of exercises between the two countries. Now, it’s about coproduction.