August 21, 2015 / 12:15 AM / 3 years ago

U.S.-India aircraft carrier working group holds inaugural meeting

MARINETTE, Wisconsin (Reuters) - A high-level U.S.-Indian working group met in Washington last week for the first of an ongoing series of meetings aimed at establishing broader cooperation on the design, development and production of aircraft carriers, the U.S. Navy said on Thursday.

As part of the three-day visit, senior U.S. and Indian naval officers visited the shipyard in Newport News, Virginia, where Huntington Ingalls Industries Inc (HII.N) is building the USS Gerald R. Ford, the first in a new class of aircraft carriers, according to Navy spokeswoman Colleen O’Rourke and Huntington Ingalls spokeswoman Beci Brenton.

The group also met with Pentagon acquisition chief Frank Kendall, was briefed about how the U.S. manages carrier development, and visited a U.S. Navy test site for carrier launch and recovery systems in Lakehurst, New Jersey.

U.S. Naval Sea Systems Command spokeswoman Colleen O’Rourke said the inaugural meeting of the Joint Working Group on Aircraft Carrier Cooperation was part of an effort to strengthen U.S.-India ties and deepen cooperation in the defence arena.

The group hopes to schedule a second meeting in India early next year, according to the U.S. embassy in New Delhi, which posted an item about the meeting on the website of U.S. Pacific Command.

Kendall told Reuters in April that the U.S. government would support selling India the Electromagnetic Aircraft Launch System being developed by privately held General Atomics to launch jets off new U.S. carriers at a faster rate, and other key technology.

India wants to use state-of-the-art U.S. technology to boost the range and potency of a planned aircraft carrier, in a move that would expand cooperation between both countries and counter China’s military influence in the region.

General Atomics, which also hopes to sell the system to Brazil, has said foreign military sales could help lower the cost of installing the system on new U.S. aircraft carriers.

The working group, co-chaired by the U.S. Navy’s Programme Executive Officer for Aircraft Carriers, Rear Admiral Tom Moore, and India’s Controller for Warship Production and Acquisition, Vice Admiral G.S. Pabby, is part of the India-U.S. Defence Technology and Trade Initiative (DTTI).

Additional reporting by David Brunnstrom in Washington

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