NEW DELHI — US cooperation in engine technology was a top issue for Indian Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar when he met US Defense Secretary Ash Carter Wednesday and Thursday in Washington, said an Indian Defence Ministry source.

India needs engine technology for its proposed homegrown advanced medium combat aircraft (AMCA), which is still on the drawing board. Availability of a higher thrust advanced engine would kick-start the AMCA program, under which India proposes to build medium combat aircraft similar to the of the Rafale, which it is buying category being bought from France, said a senior scientist of the Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO), which is developing AMCA.

Another priority in Parrikar's wish list is cooperation on development of an electro-magnetic aircraft launch system (EMALS) for the proposed homegrown Indigenous aircraft carrier (IAC-2) INS Vishal, the MoD source added.

India and the US are already discussing cooperation in jet engine EMALS system for the carrier under the India-US Defense Technology and Trade Initiative (DTTI), a forum set by the two countries to identify defense projects that could be taken up under joint development.

The India-US DTTI forum officials of the two countries in three of their meetings have discussed the possibility of cooperation in the jet engine technology, Joint Working under DTTI, the MoD source added.

Another joint working group under DTTI is discussing the working on possibility of cooperation in aircraft carrier technology and has held four rounds of meetings, and has made progress ahead of Parrikar's meeting,the source added.

During President Obama's visit to New Delhi January, the 2015, US offered India to build nuclear aircraft carrier which could station fifth generation fighters.

The US has already offered India an the Electro Magnetic Aircraft Launch System (EMALS) for the deck of its the proposed homegrown carrier, IAC-2 INS Vishal capable of launching to launch fifth generation fighter aircraft and airborne early warning aircraft.

Currently Indian aircraft carriers have ski jump assisted take-off systems.

India, Russia and China operate carriers using the less advanced short take-off (STOBAR) launch system. With an EMALS-equipped CATOBAR launch system, India's naval strike fighters would encounter less strain on their airframes and will be able to conduct sorties faster. This means India would have a leg up when it came to deploying its carrier air wings, said an Indian Navy official.

However, analysts are not sure if joint cooperation in high-tech projects including engine technology between India and US can take off in the near future.

"It is too early to expect co-development and co-production of advanced weapons systems and the two countries will have to begin with low end weapon technologies to learn how the DTTI will work on the ground," said Nitin Mehta, a defense analyst here.


Vivek Raghuvanshi is the India correspondent for Defense News.

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