Prime Minister Narendra Modi arrives in US for state visit, big-ticket defence deals on cards

avatar Vinay Kumar Tuesday 20th of June 2023 07:48 PM

Narendra Modi being greeted by Indian Americans after his arrival at New York City, on June 20, 2023. (Photo: PMO India)

New Delhi: The prime minister, Narendra Modi, landed in New York City, on Tuesday, for his maiden state visit in the United States. Before embarking for the American capital, Washington, DC, Modi will take part in several events, including the International Yoga Day celebrations at the United Nations headquarters in New York, on Wednesday.

On his way to his hotel, Modi was warmly welcomed by non-resident Indians and Indian tourists currently in the city. Modi will stay at the Lotte New York Palace Hotel during his time in the city where apart from the UN Yoga Day event, he will be meeting some of the top US industry captains. Some of those expected to meet the prime minister include Tesla and SpaceX boss Elon Musk, who is expected to discuss his likely plans to set up a Tesla manufacturing base in India.

Modi is expected to meet around two dozen eminent Americans during his stay in New York. Apart from Musk, he will be meeting Nobel laureates, academicians, artists, economists, entrepreneurs, scholars, scientists, etc. Some of the prominent names among them are investor Ray Dalio, astrophysicist Neil deGrasse Tyson, World Bank vice-president Paul Romer, essayist Nicholas Nasim Taleb, author Jeff Smith, and musician of Indian origin Chandrika Tandon.

From New York City, Modi will travel to the US capital, where the American president, Joe Biden, and the first lady Dr Jill Biden, will give him a ceremonial welcome at the White House, on Thursday. Later in the day, Modi will also address a joint session of the US Congress.

On Thursday evening, the Bidens will host a state dinner for him at the White House.

India-US defence deals

During Modi’s visit, India and the US are expected to sign a range of defence deals and cooperation agreements in the defence sector. Two big-ticket deals that are expected to be signed are the armed Predator drone deal and the deal for establishing a GE fighter engine-manufacturing base in India.

As India Sentinels reported, the defence minister-headed Defence Acquisition Council had given the green signal to the three services of the armed forces to procure MQ-9B SeaGuardian, also known as Predator B, drones from the US-based General Atomics Aeronautical Systems. In this possible deal, India will purchase 31 Predator B drones from General Atomics for around $3 billion.

Out of these 31 high-altitude long-endurance drones, the Indian Navy will get 15, while the Army and the Air Force will get eight each.

Read also: DAC gives nod to procure Predator drones from US’s General Atomics

The other megadeal that is expected to be signed between the two countries during Modi’s visit is the warplane engine-manufacturing deal with General Electric’s subsidiary GE Aerospace. In this deal, the US-based company will set up an engine-manufacturing plant in India for India’s indigenously built fighter planes, like Tejas MKII, twin-engine deck-based fighter (TEDBF), and advanced medium combat aircraft (AMCA).

This deal is also going to be worth billions of dollars. If it goes through, all the fighters in India’s current warplane-building programmes would be powered by GE engines.

Read also: GE may make fighter engines in India, deal likely during PM’s US trip

India has been gradually shifting its dependence on Russian defence platforms to western ones for the last two decades. The India-US defence cooperation has been witnessing a sharp increment in recent years, especially after China’s encroachment of Indian territory in eastern Ladakh, in May 2020.

India has purchased 12 P-8I Poseidon long-range, anti-submarine warfare (ASW), anti-surface warfare (ASuW), and intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance (ISR) aircraft for the Indian Navy from American defence major Boeing Defense.

The Indian Air Force has purchased the C-17 Globemaster III strategic heavy-lift transport aircraft from Boeing, C-130 Hercules from Lockheed Martin, AH-64 Apache combat helicopters and Chinook heavy-lift helicopters from Boeing.

The Indian Army too has purchased a list of items from the US. Among those notable procurements is the M777 155mm lightweight field howitzers. The Army has also ordered six AH-64 Apache combat helicopters from Boeing. Recently, the Army has equipped several of its infantry regiments with SiG Sauer 716 rifles.

Apart from procuring advanced weapons and defence platforms from the US, New Delhi has scaled up joint military exercises with Washington involving all three services. This includes the Malabar naval exercise, Yudh Abhyas army exercise, Cope India air force exercise, etc.

The final list of the agreements India and the US sign during the prime minister’s current America visit will be clear in the next couple of days.


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