The Indian Navy has initiated the first steps towards acquiring the Electromagnetic Aircraft Launch System (EMALS) for carriers as well as the long-range Predator B Guardian surveillance drone by sending Letters of Request (LoRs) to the Pentagon under government-to-government deals.
According to defence magazine India Strategic the LoRs, requesting price and availability for 22 Guardians and three EMALS catapults, are now under consideration by the US Department of Defense (DOD) for clearance under the Foreign Military Sales (FMS) programme and according to sources in Washington, a positive view is likely to be taken and discussions between the two countries should begin soon. Once the process is through, the US Government (USG) will send its Letters of Acceptance (LOAs).
The Predator B Guardian is a naval version for long-range surveillance over waters while the EMALS is being considered by the Indian Navy for its second indigenous aircraft carrier, INS Vishal, due by 2028. EMALS has been adopted by the US Navy as its next generation aircraft launch system, and again significantly, for its new generation aircraft carriers beginning with CVN 78 USS Gerald R Ford, due for delivery this year.
Vivek Lall, Chief Executive (Global Commercial Strategic Development) for the San Diego-based General Atomics which makes these two systems, declined comment but said: “As far as General Atomics is concerned, we will be opening an office in the Indian capital to assist both the governments as required.” Notably the Guardian is a high performance Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance (ISR) aircraft and could only be sold to India after it cleared the Missile Technology Control regime (MTCR) regulations.
Powered by a high-performance Honeywell TPE331-10 turboprop engine, it operates from a altitude of 50,000 feet and can fly for 27 hours before returning to its base. It is equipped with sophisticated day-night sensors, including Raytheon’s SeaVue multi-mode maritime radar, to identify and track vessels of different sizes, signals and electronic intelligence systems, satellite communication and even the Traffic Collision Avoidance System (TCAS).