US Secretary of Defence Lloyd Austin will be meeting Defence Minister Rajnath Singh on Monday to formalise defence cooperation talks, including on critical technologies and start-up engagements, ahead of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s visit to Washington.

Austin, who arrived here for the second time on Sunday from Singapore, is keen to seal contours of co-production of General Eelectric (GE) engines to power Light Combat Aircraft (LCA) Tejas MK-11, so that its possible announcement could be made during US President Joe Biden and PM Modi bilateral meeting on June 22, said informed sources.

The Biden administration is believed to have given its nod to an application it received way back in January over joint GE and Hindustan Aeronautics Ltd production of the engines here for the Tejas-MK-11. This issue will figure in Monday’s meeting between Singh and Austin, which will also broach on harvesting capabilities and capacities of start-ups in defence. Sources stated the government of India has made it’s position clear that initiative on Critical and Emerging Technologies (iCET) has to be bedded here under the Aatmanirbhar Bharat scheme.

The other issues that might come up is enhancing cooperation in Indo-pacific cooperation and India is hoping for better utilisation of its MRO facilities for US ships after its Charles Drew docked at the L&T facility in Chennai for maintenance and repair last August.

Defence Minister Rajnath Singh will have bilateral meeting with his German counterpart Boris Pistorius on Tuesday. Sources stated Germans are equally eager to get into defence engagement in heavy engineering technologies and feel “left out” more so since France has walked away with big deals in the recent past.

German, said sources, has offered to build next generation conventional submarines in India, responding to an RFP issued by MoD in 2021 for acquisition of 6 of them through Project 75(I). In his four-day visit, Pistorius will travel to Mumbai on June 7 to visit headquarters of Western Naval Command and Mazagon Dock Shipbuilders Ltd.