Eyeing future business with India’s military, General Atomics Aeronautical Systems (GA ASI) opened an office in New Delhi and added an executive dedicated to securing defence deals with the country.
Pratesh Gandhi, a former Indian naval aviator, will serve as director of India strategic development and will pursue military sales to the country, including sales of GA ASI’s MQ-9B SeaGuardian unmanned air vehicle and electromagnetic aircraft launch and recovery systems (EMALS) for Indian aircraft carriers, the company said 27 November.
“Establishing an office in New Delhi positions us to better collaborate with our Indian customers to deliver capabilities that address emerging security challenges in the region,” said Linden P. Blue, chief executive office of GA ASI.
GA ASI said in June 2017 that the US government had approved a $2 billion sale of 22 MQ-9B SeaGuardian UAVs to India. The drones are intended to provide intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance over the Indian Ocean, which has become a hotbed of activity as China expands naval activities, including the recent opening of a naval base on nearby Sri Lanka.
GA ASI also aims to get a slice of India's growing fleet of aircraft carriers. The Indian Navy operates one aircraft carrier, the INS Vikramaditya, which is a Kiev-class ship originally built and used by the Soviet Union as an aircraft carrier for helicopters and the vertical-take-off-and-landing Yakovlev Yak-38 Forger. It was purchased by India in 2004 and modified into a ski-jump ship. The country has another ski-jump aircraft carrier under construction, the INS Vikrant, but aims also to build a larger 65,000 tonne carrier called INS Vishal, into which GA ASI aims to integrate its electromagnetic aircraft launch and recovery systems.