India sends the manufacturing licence agreement to the US last month on the development of GE F-414 engines by HAL at its Bangalore facility

India’s high-pitched defence deal with the US on the acquisition of 31 MQ9B drones and manufacturing of GE F-414 jet engines at Bengaluru has moved to the crucial round of negotiations, reported Business Line.

Top Ministry of Defence sources said that India has sent the manufacturing licence agreement (MLA) to the US last month on the development of engines by Navratna defence PSU Hindustan Aeronautics Ltd (HAL) at its Bangalore facility with full transfer of technology from manufacturer GE Aerospace.

Once the MLA is accepted by the US, commercial negotiations for the production of the GE F-414 engines will start.

“The MLA is getting finalised and we should get it in a couple of months,” a senior MoD source informed to give an update on the deal that will equip HAL with core technology for manufacturing the next generation fighter jet engines which it lacked. Once the MLA is accepted by the US, commercial negotiations for the production of the GE F-414 engines will start.


While the US administration is asking for $1.1 million per engine, India has offered a price of $80 million along with payloads, top MoD sources privy to negotiations pointed out. India is trying to bargain so that the US eventually settles down for less than $1 million per engine.

Since it is for the first time that the US is offering a country to produce GE F-414 engines outside its jurisdiction, there are no international precedents to look up to for hard bargain, Ministry sources said.

Sharing long-term requirement, the MoD sources stated that about 1,000 engines India would need to power its different versions of fighter jets, from TEJAS MK-2 to Advanced Medium Combat Aircraft (AMCA) and Twin Engine Deck Based Fighter (TEDBF).

The two countries have agreed that the HAL can produce beyond the agreed fixed number of engines after giving royalty per engine. The MoU between GE and HAL was signed on June 22, 2023, in Washington when Prime Minister Narendra Modi was on official three-day visit to the USA.

The HAL has immediate orders for 180 TEJASs from the IAF which already has a fleet of 220 Tejas in its inventory.

Fighter Jet Project

Ministry sources ruled out Safran engines for the fifth generation AMCA the IAF needs to replenish its depleting fleet and augment fighting capabilities. Early this month, the Prime Minister headed Cabinet Committee on Security (CCS) gave the nod for AMCA fighter jet project which would cost ₹15,000 crore. Over the next five years, the Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRD) will ready five prototypes of AMCA.

Likewise, the price and other negotiations are going on for the acquisition of 31 MQ9B Sea Guardians by tri-services which as per the US estimate will cost $3.99 billion. On February 1, the US Defence Security Cooperation Agency delivered the required certification notifying Congress of this possible sale to India, the US Department of State had stated.

India is trying to convince the US and the General Atomics (GA) that indigenous companies be allowed to fix payloads on the Sea Guardians despite their reluctance. Of the many attachments, India has sought 161 Embedded Global Positioning & Inertial Navigation Systems (EGIs); 35 L3 Rio Grande Communications Intelligence Sensor Suites; 170 AGM-114R Hellfire missiles; 16 M36E9 Hellfire Captive Air Training Missiles (CATM); 310 GBU-39B/B Laser Small Diameter Bombs (LSDB); and 8 GBU-39B/B LSDB Guided Test Vehicles (GTVs) with live fuses. Also included are Certifiable Ground Control Stations.

India is also trying to scale up Made in India content in the high altitude and long endurance UAVs to 15-20 per cent from the initial US positioning of 8-9 per cent. Of the 31 MQ9Bs, which can be armed and used for surveillance purposes as well, the Indian Navy will get 15 of them while Indian Army and Indian Air Force will settle for 8 each.