The head of India’s Western Naval Command led a delegation of aircraft carrier designers to meet with U.S. officials in Washington, D.C. and visit under-construction carrier Gerald R. Ford (CVN-78), according to Indian press reports.
Vice Adm. SPS Cheema and his team’s visit is part of India’s effort to build a second domestic carrier as part of the Indian Navy indigenous aircraft carrier-II (IAC-II) program with U.S. help.
The working group which met from Aug. 12 to 14 was part of an agreement sharing carrier technology and design and establish a working group under a larger January bilateral agreement. In addition to meeting with U.S. Navy officials, the Indian delegation toured Huntington Ingalls Industries’ Newport News Shipbuilding to tour Ford.
“[Indian Navy] architects involved with the project told IHS Jane’s that it would take at least five years for the basic IAC-II design to evolve and that discussions with the [U.S. Navy], among other foreign navies, had been initiated recently,” reported Jane’s Defense Weekly.
The Indian Navy sent letters of request (LoR) to U.K. firm BAE Systems, DCNS in France, Lockheed Martin and Russia’s Rosoboronexport in July for information for carrier design.
Vishal is planned to be a 65,000-ton carrier catapult- assisted take-off but arrested recovery (CATOBAR) — an expanded capability from India’s short-take off but arrested recovery (STOBAR) on its Soviet-built Vikramaditya and the 40,000-ton domestically built Vikrant (IAC-I).
India is exploring including the General Atomics’ Electro Magnetic Aircraft Launched System (EMALS) from the Ford class.
“They are interested in obviously learning from us big picture stuff about how you start from a clean sheet of paper and what are the processes used to build a carrier,” Program Executive Officer for Aircraft Carriers Rear Adm. Tom Moore told USNI News in late May.
“But they’re really in the process of figuring out, ‘how big do I want it to be, how many planes do I want it to carry,’ along those lines. So once we’ve had those conversations with them, we’ll certainly be happy to engage with them where it makes sense for us.”
Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi has moved to accelerate production of India’s carrier program in the last few years and has the Indian Navy has devoted $5 million to the design effort.