$1 Bn GE-HAL engine-contract deepens Indo-US ties

IDD Insight

In a sign of deepening India-US military ties, US defence manufacturing giant General Electric has signed a $ 1 Billion contact for the supply of ‘F404-GE-IN20’ engines to power the India’s indigenously made single fighter jet, the Light Combat Aircraft, Tejas.

Hindustan Aeronautics Ltd (HAL), the Bangalore-based defence public sector unit will buy 99 engines of the ‘F404-GE-IN20’  variant that is most powerful of the ‘F-404’ family of aero-engines generating 84 Kn thrust.

HAL is producing making 83 single-engined Tejas Mark1-A jets and will set up allied infrastructure at a cost of $ 6 billion ( Rs 45,696 crore).

The GE-HAL deal will include support services making the deal “the largest purchase order placed by HAL for the LCA,” HAL chairman R Madhavan said describing the deal.

All the engines will be delivered to HAL in the next eight years, Chris Cyr, Vice-President Business and Development of GE said and added, “F-404 family of engines had proven itself in operations all over the world.”

What is the Engine

The F404-GE-IN20 engine is an enhanced production version of the F404, which is successfully powering India’s Light Combat Aircraft MKI. The highest thrust variant of the F404 family, the F404-GE-IN20 incorporates GE’s latest hot section materials and technologies, as well as a FADEC for reliable power and outstanding operational characteristics Read full details here

Details of the F-404 family. Source GE website

India US Ties on upswing

Despite several bumps, US and India strategic relation have only strengthened steadily over the last decade. The US rushed winter clothing and equipment for Indian troops deployed along the disputed India-China border along the Himalaya’s after bloodiest clashes with China in four decades. 

Even though New Delhi wrestles with the possibility of facing sanctions under Countering American Adversaries Through Sanctions Act (CAATSA) for purchasing Russian made anti-missile systems, India -US relations have found common ground in the need to counter China and its aggressiveness in the region.

Secretary of State of Antony Blinken and Secretary of Defence Llyod Austin visited India this year. Indian foreign minister S Jaishankar have visited Washington in search of vaccines to grapple with the raging pandemic and better ties.

Outside the US , India is the largest operator of Boeing C-17

From Zero to $ 21 billion since 2008

The share of U.S. weapon systems in the Indian inventory have been steadily increased in the last decade. The GE engines will be used to power Tejas fighters which are likely to be the mainstay interceptor and air defence platform of the Indian Air Force.

Since 2008 US has authorized defence equipment sales worth $ 21 billion to India. The US is a significant supplier to India, however, in 2008 there was no trade and the Indian Government okayed the purchase of the C-130 J special operation aircraft.  In Feb  2020 the  US agreed to supply to India two types of helicopters costing more some $ 3 billion ( Rs 21,000 crore). These will Include 24 of the marine helicopters MH-60R, made by Lockheed Martin and six Apache AH 64E made by Boeing. India has already ordered 22 Apache AH 64E.

Very soon, India is expected to clear the purchase of 30 armed unmanned aerial vehicles manufactured by the yet another US defence manufacturing giant General Atomics at an estimated cost of US $ 3 Bn. Read here IDD insight ‘India and the US — from reluctance to trusted partners’

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