India, U.S. to hike technology cooperation; co-production of jet engines on the table

India and the U.S. are discussing possibilities of co-producing jet engines, long-range artillery and infantry vehicles under the Initiative on Critical and Emerging Technologies (iCET) announced earlier this year, and officials said some high-technology initiatives are expected to be announced during Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s upcoming visit to the U.S. next month.

Ahead of the visit, the launch of INDUS-X under the iCET to promote partnerships between the two countries’ defence innovation ecosystems is scheduled in Washington.

In the run-up to the visit, these issues were discussed at the 17th meeting of India-U.S. Defence Policy Group (DPG), chaired by Defence Secretary Giridhar Aramane from India and Under Secretary of Defence for Policy Colin Kahl last week.

“The two sides reviewed the progress made in furthering defence industrial cooperation and operationalising the India-U.S. Major Defence Partnership. Important aspects such as military-to-military cooperation, and cooperative activities in the Indian Ocean Region were discussed,” the Defence Ministry said in a statement.

Enhancing cooperation

The Ministry further said that considerable focus was given on the ways and means to enhance defence industrial cooperation, including technology partnership, long-term research and development, and improving supply chain security.

Officials from both sides confirmed that the jet engine collaboration was discussed during DPG along with other collaboration mechanisms within co-production and co-development.

Among proposals being discussed is to jointly produce a jet engine for India’s future indigenous jets for which General Electric is competing with Safran of France and Rolls-Royce of U.K.

Commenting on this, Mukesh Aghi, president and CEO of the U.S.-India Strategic Partnership Forum (USISPF), said only four countries make jet engines for planes, and India will be the fifth one if the deal is announced.

“So the jet engine deal will take India’s capability in the aircraft industry to a new level. The deal also sends a message to the Chinese that the relationship between India and the U.S. is not just a surface relationship and is getting deeper,” he told The Hindu.

If the U.S. agrees to transfer jet engine [technology] to India, which China doesn’t at present have the capability for, it sends a very strong message, Mr. Aghi further said.

Earlier efforts at co-developing a jet engine has failed to take off owing to U.S. domestic legislation.

(With inputs from

Suhasini Haidar)

If the U.S. agrees to transfer jet engine [technology] to India, it sends a very strong message to China