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Very strong relations with India; co-producing armoured vehicles: US Defence Secy Lloyd Austin at Shangri La Dialogue

United States Secretary of Defence, Lloyd Austin (Photo: Youtube//IISS)

Lauding US-India ties at the Shangri La Dialogue in Singapore on Saturday, the United States Secretary of Defence, Lloyd Austin said that the relationship with India at present is better than it has ever been, adding that the two nations are co-producing armoured vehicles together.

Speaking at Asia’s premier security summit, Austin further said that it was years ago the notion came into existence to gain approval for India to build jet engines for fighter aircraft in India.

He said it is with India that the US has made progress in co-producing fighter jet engines, and armored vehicles.

“I think there is significant momentum. I think a good example is the relationship that we enjoy with India right now is as good as or better than our relationship has ever been. It’s really strong,” Austin said at the dialogue as he talked about the US-India bilateral relationship.

“You know, several years ago, we set out with a notion to gain approval for India to build jet engines for fighter aircraft in India. I served on the board of a company that makes jet engines for fighter aircraft. And I know how difficult this was going to be. And we were hopeful, but very sceptical that we could get this across the finish line. We did it. That’s happening,” he said, adding that the US is “co-producing armoured vehicles with India.”

“Usage of new technology and training is for South East Asia,” he said.

The US Defence Secretary noted that the momentum in ties will keep continuing the way it is at present, and noted that the common values shared by the US and India are the anchors of the progress of the two nations.

“So the anchors of our progress are sunk pretty deep throughout the region, and they’re based on a common vision and common values. And so I believe that the momentum that we see is going to not only continue, but it’s going to….that flywheel is going to pick up speed because this benefits us all,” Austin underlined.

“I do think that this will be lasting,” he added.

Notably, the Shangri-La Dialogue is a “Track One” inter-governmental security conference held annually in Singapore by an independent think tank, the International Institute for Strategic Studies (IISS).

In April this year, the United States Secretary of Defence, Lloyd Austin said that the deal between the two nations to produce jet weapons in collaboration is revolutionary.

Underscoring that India and the US are also co-producing an armoured vehicle, Austin said that such joint ventures will provide great capabilities.

The landmark jet engine deal was revealed in June of last year, during Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s historic official state visit to the US. To produce fighter jet engines for the Indian Air Force, General Electric and Hindustan Aeronautics signed a memorandum of understanding.

Earlier in 2023, US General Electric (US GE) announced that it had inked an agreement with Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL), the government’s aerospace and defence manufacturing firm, to jointly manufacture engines in India to power fighter jets for the Indian Air Force.

Moreover, the Biden Administration notified the US Congress in February this year, of its intent to sell nearly 4 billion dollars worth of arms, comprising mainly of the MQ 9 B Drones armed with Hellfire missiles.

The Defence Security Cooperation Agency, which is an agency within the US Department of Defence, said in a press release that the sale helps strengthen the US-Indian strategic relationship.

It added that New Delhi continues to be an “important force for political stability, peace, and economic progress in the Indo-Pacific and South Asia region.”