The Biden administration, as part of its strategic pivot towards India, appears on the verge of green-lighting a landmark agreement for General Electric Co to commence the production of military jet engines in India, a move signalling a deepening of bilateral military-industrial ties.

According to sources familiar with the ongoing discussions, the arrangement is anticipated to be formally unveiled during President Joe Biden’s meeting with Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi on June 22. These insiders, who wished to remain anonymous due to the sensitive nature of the negotiations, indicated that the agreement is not yet finalized and would necessitate a notification to the U.S. Congress, a procedural step before such international defense collaborations can solidify.

The proposed deal entails the joint production of jet engines, likely for India’s second-generation light combat aircraft, among other platforms. India’s state-owned Hindustan Aeronautics Ltd (HAL) has disclosed plans to use GE-manufactured 414 engines for these aircraft and is reportedly negotiating for domestic production capabilities.

The partnership would bolster India’s aviation sector, with HAL designated as a licensed manufacturer, potentially availing of some technology transfer from GE. There has been a push from the Indian side for a more extensive sharing of technology, highlighting the country’s keenness to augment its self-reliance in defense manufacturing. Indeed, with India aiming to produce over 350 fighter jets for its air force and navy in the coming two decades, the need for a consistent and indigenous engine supply cannot be overstated.

However, this deal extends beyond mere engine production. It is emblematic of a broader joint initiative launched earlier this year to promote collaboration between U.S. and Indian firms, particularly in the domain of military equipment and advanced technology.

The juxtaposition of India’s pursuit of domestic engine production with the wider regional context is striking. While this deal unfolds, Pakistan, India’s regional rival, has been making strides with its own JF-17 Thunder Block-III fighter jets, securing export orders and defence agreements with countries like Iraq.

(With Agency Inputs)