The US and India plan to share advanced defense and computing technology, including the potential joint production of General Electric Co. jet engines, as the Biden administration seeks to shift New Delhi away from Russia and counter China.
Details of the plan, known as US-India Initiative on Critical and Emerging Technologies, released Tuesday bolster Washington's broader agenda of strengthening military, technology and supply-chain links with partner countries.
US National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan said in a briefing that the framework won't be solely driven by the geopolitical challenges posed by Moscow or Beijing. But he added that China's aggressive military moves and economic practices have had "a profound impact on the thinking in Delhi" and other capitals around the world.
"The China-Russia factors are real, but so is the idea of building a deep, democratic ecosystem of high technology," Sullivan said Tuesday, previewing the partnership with reporters. "So, geopolitics doesn't sit off to the side, but it's not a comprehensive explanation for what's at work here."
One area of interest for India would be domestically producing GE jet engines, which it uses in its combat aircraft.
US officials are evaluating a proposal from GE to approve joint production of jet engines for Indian warplanes, Sullivan said Tuesday. He wouldn't speculate on how soon an announcement might come, while adding that the countries are aiming for "fast and ambitious progress."
Clearance for assembly of GE engines in India would be a step toward lessening the country's historic reliance on Russia for military hardware - a boost for American diplomacy in the effort to isolate Moscow over its invasion of Ukraine. India now flies a mix of Russian, European and locally produced jets in its fighter fleet, a reflection of its position outside the superpowers' orbits.
Beyond GE engines, the initiative on critical and emerging technologies also includes cooperation on artillery systems, armored-infantry vehicles and maritime security, as well as semiconductors, quantum computing and artificial intelligence.
Sullivan met with his Indian counterpart, Ajit Doval, on Tuesday. The duo on Monday attended an event with executives from American and Indian tech firms and university presidents.
President Joe Biden is expected to travel to India for the Group of 20 leaders' summit in September and see Prime Minister Narendra Modi in Australia at a summit of the so-called Quad security partners, which includes Japan.
Sullivan acknowledged that the partnership with India isn't without its risks, given the weapons trade between India and Russia, but he stressed that the initiative wasn't sparked by the war in Ukraine or efforts to drive a wedge between New Delhi and Moscow.
"I'm not going to say that facilitating the movement of India off of Russian equipment to other equipment is an irrelevant consideration - of course it is not," he said.
The teams are also seeking to cooperate on semiconductors, where India can play a role in diversification of supply chains. India is interested in growing its packaging and legacy chip manufacturing capabilities, Sullivan said.
Those efforts could also include efforts to build out and deploy an alternative to compete with Huawei Technologies Co. Ltd on 5G telecommunications equipment. The White House is now considering a full ban on US firms selling equipment to China's Huawei, which has already been crippled by years of US national security actions.
The impediment to India having its own chips fabrication facilities is a matter of "political and policy will," not lack of know-how or talent, Sullivan said.
The US effort to bring advanced semiconductor manufacturing back to the America largely hinges on finding a qualified workforce. One part of the strategy also includes a streamlining of the US's visa system, and the White House is working with Congress to address existing issues with H1B visas and ensure the US continues to attract science and engineering talent.
--With assistance from Sudhi Ranjan Sen.
(Except for the headline, this story has not been edited by NDTV staff and is published from a syndicated feed.)