By Andrea Shalal
WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The U.S. government would support selling General Atomics' electromagnetic launching system for aircraft carriers, and other key technologies, to India, the Pentagon's chief weapons buyer told Reuters on Friday.
Defense Undersecretary Frank Kendall, who heads a joint U.S.-India defense trade and technology effort, said he was optimistic about the two countries' efforts to cooperate on a planned aircraft carrier for India.
"I'm optimistic about cooperating with them on that," Kendall told Reuters in an interview, when asked about the possibility of India acquiring the Electromagnetic Aircraft Launch System (EMALS) built by privately held General Atomics, which is based in San Diego, California.
"They’re going to have to make their own decision about what technology they want, but I don't see any fundamental obstacles to them acquiring some of our carrier technologies, if they want them," he said.
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 deepen cooperation between both countries and counter China's military influence in the region.
General Atomics, which has also proposed selling the system to Brazil, says selling the system to foreign countries could help lower the cost of installing the system on the new Gerald R. Ford class of U.S. Navy aircraft carriers being built by Huntington Ingalls Industries Inc.
The new system helps jets launch off a flat deck at a faster rate and with less fatigue to the aircraft.
Kendall said the issue would be addressed by a new working group that is being set up by the two countries.
The Pentagon recently appointed Rear Admiral Thomas Moore, the Navy's two-star program executive officer for aircraft carriers, to lead the U.S. part of the working group, said Pentagon spokeswoman Maureen Schumann.
Moore will work with his Indian counterpart, Rear Admiral-select Surendra Ahuja, a former Indian test pilot, to set up the first meeting of the group in the next couple of months.
(Reporting by Andrea Shalal; Editing by Dan Grebler)