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GE Aerospace inks pact with HAL for joint production of fighter jet engines in India

India's Light Combat Aircraft 'Tejas'. (File photo)

WASHINGTON (PTI): In a landmark announcement, USA’s GE Aerospace on Thursday said it has inked a pact with India’s Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL) to jointly produce fighter jet engines for Indian Air Force’s 'Tejas' Light Combat Aircraft (LCA) Mk2.

The announcement came during Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s first state visit to the US at the invitation of President Joe Biden.

“The agreement includes the potential joint production of GE Aerospace’s F414 engines in India, and GE Aerospace continues to work with the US Government to receive the necessary export authorisation for this," the US firm said in a statement.

It described the Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with HAL as a “key element” in strengthening defence cooperation between India and the US.

“This is a historic agreement made possible by our longstanding partnership with India and HAL,” said H Lawrence Culp Jr, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of GE and CEO of GE Aerospace.

The agreement will advance GE Aerospace’s earlier commitment to build 99 engines for the IAF as part of the LCA-Mk-II programme.

“It puts the company in a strong position to create a family of products in India, including the F404 engine that currently powers the LCA Mk1 and LCA Mk1A aircraft and GE Aerospace’s selection for the prototype development, testing and certification of the AMCA programme with our F414-INS6 engine,” the statement said.

The pact is significant as India has been sourcing its military aircraft from Russia and European consortia.
Recently, the IAF bought 36 Rafale fighter aircraft from Dassault Aviation, a French manufacturer of combat aircraft.

In addition, GE will continue to collaborate with the Indian Government on the Advanced Medium Combat Aircraft (AMCA) Mk2 engine programme.

“We are proud to play a role in advancing Biden and Modi’s vision of closer coordination between the two nations. 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,” the US firm said.

Currently, HAL uses GE 404 engines for the 83 Light Combat Aircraft it is manufacturing for the IAF.
GE Aerospace has operated in India for more than four decades with wide engagement in the industry including engines, avionics, services, engineering, manufacturing, and local sourcing.

GE Aerospace’s F404 and F414 engines have been part of the development and production of LCA Mk1 and LCA Mk2 programmes.

In total, 75 F404 engines have been delivered and another 99 are on order for LCA Mk1A.

Eight F414 engines have been delivered as part of an ongoing development programme for LCA Mk2, the US firm said.

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