Home » Aviation » U.S. and India to Cooperate on Aircraft Carrier Technology


U.S. and India to Cooperate on Aircraft Carrier Technology

An artist's conception of INS Vikrant. Indian Navy Image

An artist’s conception of INS Vikrant. Indian Navy Image

U.S. and India will create a working group to share aircraft carrier technology and design, according to an agreement signed earlier this month as part of President Obama’s visit to the country.

Included in a joint Sunday statement, released by the White House, was a clause called for the creation of working group to “explore” carrier technology sharing but gave few details on the effort.

It’s unclear yet as to which U.S. agencies would participate in the working group.

Representatives with U.S. Naval Systems Command – the Navy’s shipbuilding and design arm – said the outline of the effort had not yet reached their office.

The U.S. Navy’s sole carrier builder – Huntington Ingalls Industries – referred USNI News to the Navy.

In a statement from Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel said deeper defense cooperation, “will support stronger military-to-military engagement, including deeper maritime cooperation and increased opportunities in technology and trade.”

Even if the scope of the working group is still vague, partnering in any capacity with the U.S. on carrier development would be a boon to the Indian development of its internal carrier program.

India’s first domestic carrier – the 40,000 ton INS Vikrant – has been plagued with both cost overruns and production delays and now could cost as much as $4 billion and become operational in 2018 – five years late.

Some of that U.S. help could be directed toward helping India include nuclear power in its second homegrown carrier.

In September, the head of India’s naval design bureau said that nuclear power could still be an option in the second carrier – Vishal – currently in its conceptual design phase.

Other American technology wants from the Indians could include aircraft carrier catapults.

Indian press reports from 2013 said representatives from U.S. defense company General Atomics had briefed Indian defense officials on the Electromagnetic Aircraft Launch System (EMALS), the next generation carrier catapult technology that will be used on the U.S. Gerald R. Ford-class (CVN-78) carriers.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi in a MiG-29K on a June 14 visit to INS Vikramaditya. NDTV Photo

Prime Minister Narendra Modi in a MiG-29K on a June 14 visit to INS Vikramaditya. NDTV Photo

Other areas defense areas mentioned in the statement include development of four so-called pathfinder projects and the development of jet engine technology.

The agreement is also bad news for Russia – India’s long-time military technology partner, said Eric Wertheim author of U.S. Naval Institute’s Combat Fleets of the World told USNI News on Tuesday.

India fields several Russian designed ships, including its 1970s era modified Kiev-class carrier, INS Vikramaditya, and an Akula-class nuclear attack submarine.

However Russia has preformed poorly in regards to delivery dates for promised kit and cost overruns.

Russia is also inconsistent with its technology development.

“If India keeps relying on Russia on their primary partner they’re going to lose in the technology race,” Wertheim said.

Scorpène-class submarine

Scorpène-class submarine

In last few years India has looked more to Western Europe and the U.S. for defense material with buys including the U.S. Boeing P-8I maritime patrol aircraft and the estimated $4.6 billion purchase of six French and Spanish designed Scorpène-class diesel-electric attack submarines (SSK).

Part of India’s desire to diversify its defense spending could be tied to China’s own blue water naval expansion.

In the last few years, China has both operated more and more in the Indian Ocean and tightened military and economic bonds with Russia, raising concerns with India’s leadership.

  • Though India should keep the STOBAR carrier, I think EMALS may work as well.

    • Steve Skubinna

      The UK looked at building their new CVs with cats and arresting gear and decided it was too hard. On the other hand the French are building the same design as a CATOBAR ship, so they’ll be operating aircraft with much higher performance. Even with the F-35B, STOVL perfomance takes too much of a hit, so eventual transition to EMALS is a good plan.

      • Secundius

        @ Steve Skubinna.

        The French PA2 (Porte-Avions 2) Aircraft Carrier design got cancelled in 2013…

      • Peter_Lyon

        The UK balked on cost rather than difficulty.

        • Secundius

          @ Peter Lyon.

          The way I heard it after the EMAL and the Landing Arresting System went beyond the doubling price of the original projected cost. The simply cancelled the Project and to Plan “B”. The Lockheed-Martin F/AV-35B Lightning II. Now that all remains to see, is what AEW system they Choose…

      • andy

        the french can’t afford the one carrier they were going to build get your facts right but i guess yanks aren’t very well knowing for being factually correct.

        • Steve Skubinna

          Sure showed me, stupid yank that I am. How many carriers does your nation (whichever one it is) operate?

          And incidentally, if you’re a Brit, the RN can’t afford the two they’re building either. Do you want to have a discussion or measure our respective penises?

    • Secundius

      @ Nicky.

      I theory it should work. The only this is the EMALS has never tested beyond 5-degrees vertical sloop. The problem is in the “bridle design”, the steeper the angle the more difficult for the bridle to move freely in the track…

      • Which I think India should keep the STOBAR carrier

        • Secundius

          @ Nicky.

          Nicky, you not going to get any negative arguments out of me about the STOBAR “Flight-Deck” configuration. The MiG-29K aircraft just wasn’t meant to be a carrier based aircraft. The F/A-18A/B Hornet or even the F/AV-35B’s or F/A-35C’s would make for a better carrier choice…

          • Their are some Naval Aircraft that are STOBAR Capable. I know the Rafale M was tested for STOBAR capability and Dassault have said that it is doable in simulations. I don’t know if the F/A-18 is STOBAR capable.

          • Secundius

            @ Nicky.

            Everytime I think about STOBAR, I think about the Doolittle Raid on Japan. Your relying solely on the aircrafts engines to get you off the Carrier Deck, which mean severely limiting your ordnance lift carrying capacity. And once you leave the Flight Deck, then what. You can only get as far as the remaining fuel you have left to get to your objective. Unless there’s a “Buddy-Tanker” aircraft already in the air to “top-off” you fuel tanks. Ideally the F/AV-35B are the Answer, “if you can make a STOL take-off, you can also make as STOL landing”. As far as the F/A-35C, though they have Larger Wings, can they make a STOL Take-Off, off a Ski-Jump Flight Deck. Theoretically Yes, in actual practice Unkown. They certainly have the Engine Power to do the job, but the rest is the unknown variable. I’ll have to check if any Short, Unassisted Take-Off’s have ever been performed…

          • Which is why some aircraft have a higher thrust to weight ratio.

          • Secundius

            @ Nicky.

            The MiG-29K & Su-33 were adapted to operate from Carriers, they weren’t originally designed to operate from Carriers. As far a the ChiCom Shenjang J-15, “It’s A Magic Hat Trick”. On paper everything looks impressive, but when you read between the lines. It becomes far less impressive, when they tell you that there single-barrel 30x210Bmm cannon only carries 130-rounds of ammunition, compared to the F/A-18 Hornets 6-barrel 20x102mm Auto Cannon w/578-rounds ammunition. Mean the trying to save weight to get this “Beast” in to the air, under it’s own power w/o assistance. There willing to trading weight for performance. And if there’s on Tanker on site at sea, there range is going to be severely limited too…

          • Secundius

            @ Nicky.

            A follow-up to your question, YES. Air Test & Evaluation Squadron VX-23 “Salty Dogs” located at the Naval Air Station Patuxent River, Maryland. Have performed STOBAR test’s on the F/A-35C in September 2010. For the Royal Navy, test were successful. The F/A-35C can “Run-Rings-Around” the MiG-29K, Su-33 and the J-15…

          • I know the F/A-18 was tested for STOBAR and even the F-35 and Rafale.

          • Secundius

            @ Nicky.

            In STOBAR configuration the Ordnance Load Lift Capacity is going to be about 40% of “normal” capacity, with the exception of the F/AV-35B which remains the same.
            Rafale, normal is 20,900-pounds to 8,400-pounds. For lift-carring capacity” the Delta-Wing is the best design, problem is delta-wings don’t fold for storage.
            F/A-18A/B/C/D, normal is 13,700-pounds to 5,500-pounds.
            F/A/E-18E/F/G, normal is 17,750-pounds to 7,100-pounds.
            F/AV-35B, normal is 15,000-pounds.
            F-/A-35C, normal is 18,000-pounds to 7,200-pounds.

  • Marcd30319

    So the Obama administration makes a semi-secret agreement with Indian government about a basically on-way exchange of carrier technology. Neither NAVSEA and HHI Newport News shipbuilding are included in the loop. So much for transparency, but more tellingly is this administration willingness to give away American technology. I do not blame India for looking at options, and Russia is notorious for cost over-runs and shoddy workmanship, but we need to be careful before giving away our technical crown jewels to any third party.

  • Steve Skubinna

    I don’t know why Obama took six years to reach out to India, unless it’s because Bush had worked so hard at it before him. Can’t appear to continue anything Dubya thought was a good idea. But India is a natural ally and partner and anything we can do to wean them from reliance on the Russians is good. Perhaps the stupidest foreign policy mistake Nixon and Kissenger made was backing Pakistan instead of India, especially in view of their success in breaking the linkages between Egypt and the USSR (something that Obama has worked to reinstate).

    • Steve Skubinna

      And by “worked to reinstate” I know I am giving this administration too much credit. Sending Egypt back into Russian arms was a careless blunder, not a calculated policy decision. The administration acts as if foreign policy bores it.

      • On Dre

        Unlike the exciting foreign policy adventures of the previous white house occupant. That dude knew how to throw a foreign policy overseas! Complete with guardsmen being deployed overseas looking for imaginary weapons of doom. This presidents policy seems to be keeping America safe and fixing previous mistakes. He is doing a great job nevermind the right wing hand wringers lamenting about secret mooslims taking over.

        • muzzleloader

          And you are just another paid Obama hack.

        • Steve Skubinna

          Cut, jib, newsletter.

    • Secundius

      @ Steve Skubinna.

      So you saying it’s “Even, Stevens”. Make the Indian’s Love Us, while Making the Muslim’s of the World Despise Us. You right that is a Fair Trade-Off…

  • The_Usual_Suspect61

    “India’s first domestic carrier – the 40,000 ton INS Vikrant –
    has been plagued with both cost overruns and production delays and now
    could cost as much as $4 billion and become operational in 2018 – five
    years late.” I had to chuckle…and HHH and NAVSEA are going to teach them what? How to build it over budget in a shorter time?

    • Secundius

      @ The_Usual-Suspect61.

      I wonder if CV-1, Langley, CV-2, Lexington and CV-3, Saratoga ran into the same problems you just mentioned. After all it was the USN first attempt in building “purpose built” aircraft carriers…

    • Rahul

      Cost over runs and production delays happens when we make a new technology which was never made before and that is exactly why India need help from US which has a lot experience in this field. They can provide India with a already successful technology which is best in the world and that will really reduce cost over runs and delays for India. There is nothing wrong in friendly countries helping each other these how friendship and trust get strong.

      • Zarzan

        I thought Russia was Indias friend, or was it a spelling error. Fair weather friend- India.

        • Murf

          The operative word here; “was”, pasted tense.
          Russian planes have been plague by mechanical failur and quality control. The Vikramaditya was ten years late and a billion over budget. The last straw was the t-50 (PAK-50 stealth fighter.) the Indians sank 5 billion into the thing and were underwhelmed by the prototypes.

        • Secundius

          @ Zarzan.

          Sell a Friend a Bad Product, and they Stop Being Your Friends…

  • Jeff Russell

    Obama has nothing to do with any decisions, he is only a administrator for the System. Only when the system realizes that its at risk of complete failure does it react. And it reacts too slow and cowardly to have any real effect in todays global system.

    • Secundius

      @ Jack Russell.

      So far the GOP side of the US Government, seems to be working like there under the influence of Valium. Or maybe it Prozac…

  • aloxxley

    Let’s give India the USS George Washington in exchange for !0,000 BRAHMOS anti ship cruise missiles.

  • Secundius

    @ USNI News.

    I see how this works, it’s OK to slam one, but not the other…

  • omegatalon

    Does this make any sense as what does India know about building aircraft carriers that the US does as this is Obama simply not understanding his job.

    • Secundius

      @ omegatalon.

      I’m pretty sure the United States, didn’t know what the were doing either when the built the CV-1, USS. Langley and her two sister ships Lexington and Saratoga…

  • Secundius

    You know Vlad, there’s an easy way around this DILEMMA, Have one of your Fleet Tugs pull the Warship around on the end of a cable. It looks STUPID, but it get’s the job done…

  • Zarzan

    An answer to the expensive indian air craft carrier- RAWALPINDI: Pakistan on Monday conducted a successful flight test of the indigenously developed Air Launched Cruise Missile (ALCM) “Ra’ad”, said an Inter Services Public Relations (ISPR) press release.

    The Ra’ad missile, with a range of 350 km, enables Pakistan to achieve ‘strategic standoff capability’ on land and at sea.

    “Cruise Technology” is extremely complex and has been developed by only a few countries in the world. The state of the art Ra’ad Cruise Missile with stealth capabilities is a low altitude, terrain hugging missile with high maneuverability; can deliver nuclear and conventional warheads with pin point accuracy.

  • Zarzan

    India sits on a $500 bn debt pile. It has an annual trade deficit of $140 bn. It has to borrow to keep afloat. US just promised $ 4bn in aid. 80% of its population live below the poverty line. It has 12 independence movements going on. One third of the country is out of government control in the east where Maoists run administration , police and judiciary. Indian army cannot venture out, without getting clearance from the Maoists. On average one indian ship/ submarine sinks every month, check it out on the net. And they want to buy an aircraft carrier, to sink it by incompetence and endanger the ocean, due to the nuclear reactors. Don’t do it, Dave the world.

    • b2mishra06

      LOL this Pakistani seems frustrated . alelelele my poor boy. dont worry. this naval build-up is for your iron brother China

  • Secundius

    According to Military Times, Barak-8 SAM’s to start installing on Indian Naval Ships by end of the year…

  • Jerry Chin

    hat are you saying that russia makes crappy weapons is that what you’re trying to say who told you this why don’t you get your facts straight before you post this comment Russia don’t make crappy weapons I think your US government told you this

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