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The Hindu
The Hindu
Dinakar Peri

Rajnath Singh set to host U.S., German leaders for defence deals

U.S. Secretary of Defence Lloyd J. Austin and German Defence Minister Boris Pistorius will be in India early next week for bilateral talks with Defence Minister Rajnath Singh.

With the U.S, co-development and co-production projects in the works will be top on the agenda, while talks with Germany is expected to be on a government-to-government deal to supply conventional submarines for the Indian Navy.

“A host of bilateral defence cooperation issues, with focus on industrial cooperation, are likely to be discussed during the two meetings,” a Defence Ministry statement said. Mr. Singh is scheduled to hold bilateral talks with Mr. Austin on June 5 and with Mr. Pistorius on June 6.

The U.S. Secretary of Defence will arrive on Sunday on a two-day visit from Singapore after taking part in the Shangri-La dialogue. It will be Mr. Austin’s second visit to India, the previous one being in March 2021.

Laying the groundwork for Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s visit, Mr. Singh and Mr. Austin are expected to make an announcement on the launch of the initiative INDUS-X, a platform for start-ups and enterprises from both countries to identify collaborations for high-tech innovations within the ambit of the Initiative on Critical and Emerging Technologies (iCET), officials said. INDUS-X, being coordinated by the U.S.-India Business Council, is scheduled to be held over two days in Washington coinciding with Mr. Modi’s visit.

The two leaders will take stock of efforts on manufacturing of the General Electric GE-414 engines in India which has been chosen to power India’s indigenous Light Combat Aircraft (LCA)-Mk2.

The German Federal Minister of Defence will be on a four-day visit to India beginning June 5 and will arrive from Indonesia. During his visit, Mr. Pistorius is likely to meet a few defence start-ups during an event organised by Innovations for Defence Excellence (iDEX) in New Delhi, the statement said. “On June 7, he will travel to Mumbai where he is likely to visit Headquarters, Western Naval Command and Mazagon Dock Shipbuilders Limited,” it added. Public sector unit MDL is currently manufacturing the Scorpene class conventional submarines under technology transfer from France with the sixth and last of the boats scheduled to be delivered to the Indian Navy in early 2024.

The Navy, which is looking at a dwindling sub-surface fleet, is looking to procure six advanced diesel-electric submarines under Project-75I. Estimated to cost upwards of ₹45,000 crore, the deal has been stuck for a while over technical issues. MDL, along with Larsen & Toubro, has been shortlisted to partner with foreign submarine manufactures.

Germany is expected to present a formal proposal to India for sale of the submarines. Only Germany and South Korea technically meet the criteria to submit bids for the deal, the deadline for which has seen several extensions.

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