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India's Modi Clinches Deal to Jointly Build Fighter Jet Engines with GE

India's Modi Clinches Deal to Jointly Build Fighter Jet Engines with GE

General Electric Aerospace on Thursday signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with India’s Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL) to manufacture fighter jet engines in India, putting ink on a major deal that was a much-anticipated feature of Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s visit to the United States this week. “This is a historic agreement made possible by our longstanding partnership with India and HAL. We are proud to play a role in advancing President Joe Biden and PM Modi’s vision of closer coordination between the two nations,” said GE Aerospace CEO H. Lawrence Culp, Jr. as he announced the MoU. “Our F414 engines are unmatched and will offer important economic and national security benefits for both countries as we help our customers produce the highest quality engines to meet the needs of their military fleet,” Culp said. PM @narendramodi held productive discussions with CEO of @generalelectric, H. Lawrence Culp, Jr.

They discussed GE’s greater technology collaboration to promote manufacturing in India. — PMO India (@PMOIndia) June 22, 2023 The F414 engine is one of GE’s flagship military products, with over five million flight hours logged to date.

The U.S. Navy’s F-18 Super Hornet, which will be phased out in 2025 after 26 years of service, accounts for many of the F414 engines in use. GE has been working with HAL and the Indian government on combat aircraft development since 1986.

The new MoU on developing engines for India’s Tejas Light Combat Aircraft (LCA) Mark II jet fighter program could be an important step in weaning India away from Russian military products. India has been a major customer of Russian arms for decades, although purchases began trailing off after Modi became prime minister in 2014. India is reluctant to go cold turkey because it strives to maintain good diplomatic relations with Moscow, even as it grows closer to Washington. Europe also hopes to draw India away from the Russian arms market. France is actually the second-largest supplier of military technology to India after Russia, and in January the French used joint naval exercises with India as an opportunity to push for more business. “No other country can commit to delivering the best technology to the Indian forces without any kind of restrictions. We are committed not just to Make in India but also step further and co-develop and co-manufacture with India,” French Ambassador to India Emmanuel Lenain said in January. “Make in India” is the Modi administration’s program to increase domestic manufacturing.

The MoU signed on Thursday covers “potential joint production of GE Aerospace’s F414 engines in India.” The U.S. government has not yet granted the “necessary export authorization” for such a joint endeavor. GE said on Thursday that eight F414 engines have already been delivered for India’s LCA Mark II project, which is expected to deliver a prototype in 2024-2025 and go into production by 2027. India then hopes to begin a ten-year development cycle for an Advanced Medium Combat Aircraft (AMCA).

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