This Article is From Aug 14, 2023

Congressional Nod For Jet Engine Deal "High Priority" For Me: US Lawmaker Ro Khanna

In an exclusive interview to PTI, Ro Khanna also talked about a plan for legislation to facilitate treating India on par with Washington's close allies like Israel, Japan and South Korea,

Congressional Nod For Jet Engine Deal 'High Priority' For Me: US Lawmaker Ro Khanna

Ro Khanna is a co-chair of the bipartisan Congressional Caucus on India

New Delhi:

Leading US lawmaker Ro Khanna on Monday said obtaining Congressional approval for the export authorisation for GE Aerospace's F-414 jet engines for co-production in India will be a "high priority" for him.

In an exclusive interview to PTI, Mr Khanna also talked about a plan for legislation to facilitate treating India on par with Washington's close allies like Israel, Japan and South Korea, for expediting approvals to such critical projects.

In June, American defence major GE Aerospace signed an agreement with Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL) to co-produce F-414 fighter jet engine engines in India, during Prime Minister Narendra Modi's state visit to the US.

The Biden administration has already notified the US Congress about the deal. The Congress will have to accord export authorisation for the manufacture of the engines in India under the framework of transfer of technology (ToT).

"I am (hopeful)," Mr Khanna, the co-chair of the Congressional India Caucus, said when asked whether he was expecting an early approval to the jet engine project by the Congress.

Mr Khanna and Congressman Michael Waltz, the two co-chairs of the bipartisan Congressional Caucus on India and Indian Americans, are leading a Congressional delegation to India.

"This (Congressional export authorisation) is going to be a high priority for me and my counterpart, the Republican co-chair on the India Caucus. We will be pushing that this needs to be authorised," he said.

"We will also introduce legislation to say that India should be treated like Israel, like Japan, like South Korea with expedited approval," he said.

Under the jet engine deal, GE Aerospace's F414 engines will be co-produced in India to power Tejas light combat aircraft Mk2.

The agreement was seen as a transformational move in further expanding the India-US global strategic partnership.

Mr Khanna said the jet engine project for sharing of critical technologies with India is a major move to bolster the overall bilateral defence ties.

"This was a good foundation," he said, adding the two countries should focus on more defence cooperation, especially in critical technologies.

"It is going to be a defining relationship for the US," he said.

"We have steps that we need to take to continue to improve the technology relationship so that India can have sensitive shared technologies in improving scientific research, academic cooperation," he said.

A joint statement issued on June 22 following talks between Prime Minister Modi and President Joe Biden described the jet engine deal as an "unprecedented co-production and technology transfer proposal".

"This trailblazing initiative to manufacture F-414 engines in India will enable greater transfer of US jet engine technology than ever before," it said.

"The leaders committed their governments to working collaboratively and expeditiously to support the advancement of this unprecedented co-production and technology transfer proposal," it added.

India's plan to procure 31 MQ-9B High Altitude Long Endurance (HALE) drones from the US was also finalised when the prime minister was in the US.

The Indo-US defence ties have been on an upswing in the last few years.

In June 2016, the US designated India a "Major Defence Partner" paving the way for sharing of critical military equipment and technology.

The two countries have also signed key defence and security pacts over the past few years, including the Logistics Exchange Memorandum of Agreement (LEMOA) in 2016 that allows their militaries to use each other's bases for repair and replenishment of supplies.

The two sides also signed COMCASA (Communications Compatibility and Security Agreement) in 2018 which provides for interoperability between the two militaries and provides for the sale of high-end technology from the US to India.

In October 2020, India and the US sealed the BECA (Basic Exchange and Cooperation Agreement) agreement to further boost bilateral defence ties.

The pact provides for sharing of high-end military technology, logistics and geospatial maps between the two countries. 

(Except for the headline, this story has not been edited by NDTV staff and is published from a syndicated feed.)