US Defence Secretary Lloyd Austin arrived in India on Sunday on a two-day visit to explore ways to further strengthen bilateral defence cooperation, especially in areas of transfer of critical technologies for co-development of military hardware.
Secretary Austin's trip comes over two weeks ahead of Prime Minister Narendra Modi's state visit to Washington during which the two sides are expected to unveil initiatives to expand the India-US global strategic partnership.
Advancing the Major Defense Partnership
"I'm returning to India to meet with key leaders for discussions about strengthening our Major Defense Partnership. Together, we're advancing a shared vision for a free and open Indo-Pacific," the US defence secretary tweeted shortly after landing in New Delhi.
India's Pursuit of Indigenous Jet Engine Manufacturing
Defence Minister Rajnath Singh and Austin are set to discuss in their talks on Monday General Electric's proposal to share technology with India for fighter jet engines and New Delhi's plan to procure 30 MQ-9B armed drones at a cost of over USD 3 billion from US defence major General Atomics Aeronautical Systems Inc besides other issues, people familiar with the matter said.
India has been looking at manufacturing of jet engines in India under the framework of technology transfer to power its fighter aircraft.
Enabling Equipment and Technology Sharing
In June 2016, the US designated India a "Major Defence Partner" paving the way for sharing of critical military equipment and technology.
China's aggressive behaviour in the Indo-Pacific as well as along the Line of Actual Control and ways to combat the threat of terrorism are also likely to figure in the discussions between Singh and Austin.
The US Defence Secretary arrived from Singapore. It is Secretary Austin's second visit to India. His previous trip to India was in March 2021.
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