The US-based General Atomics Aeronautical Systems, Inc. (GA-ASI) and Bharat Forge have entered a partnership to produce main landing gear components, sub-assemblies and assemblies for remotely piloted aircraft. The formation of this partnership is a crucial step towards accelerating manufacturing in India.
Last month in an exclusive interaction with Financial Express Online, Dr Vivek Lall, Chief Executive for the General Atomics Global Corporation had indicated that the company is looking for partnerships with the Indian private sector.
He had said that under “Make in India’’ support, GA-ASI announced tie-ups with 3rd iTech for semiconductor technology, and 114ai for Artificial Intelligence. And more such partnerships are expected to be announced in the weeks and months to come.
Also Read: Exclusive Interview: Dr Vivek Lall of General Atomics sees scope for more partnerships with India Inc
As part of India’s journey towards “Self Reliance’’ in August 2022, Financial Express Online had also reported that the US has offered Transfer of Technology (ToT) to India which would enable her to design and build HALE unmanned aircraft. To build the unmanned aircraft would take a decade based on global experience; however, if the US gives the technology, then these can be manufactured in India and this will give a boost to indigenous drones for the Indian Armed Forces.
Also Read: US offers ToT to build HALE Drones in India
Admiral R Hari Kumar, chief of India’s naval staff, in response to Financial Express Online question on December 3, 2022, had said the negotiations are going on with the US Company for remotely piloted aircraft MQ9B Sea/Sky Guardian (RPA). Currently, procurement for the three services – Navy is the lead in this, Air Force and the Army – is being processed for the acquisition of 30 MQ9B from the US under Government-to-Government (G2G) Foreign Military Sales (FMS).
It has been reported earlier that two MQ-9 UAVs leased from the US, the Indian Navy logged 10,000 flight hours in a single year. And these were also deployed in the area close to China’s border during the most recent escalation of hostilities.
Also Read: MQ-9B Predator Deal is under process says Navy Chief
The MQ-9A has an endurance of approximately 27 hours, speeds of 240 KTS, a maximum operational altitude of 50,000 feet, and a cargo capacity of 3,850 pounds (1,744 kgs), including 3,000 pounds (1,340 kgs) of external supplies. Additionally, the MQ-9A has a maximum operational altitude of 50,000 feet. In addition to this, the MQ-9A has the capability of flying at heights of up to 50,000 feet.
Used to eliminate terrorists
On July 31, the US executed al Qaeda leader Ayman al-Zawahiri in Kabul with an MQ-9 Reaper drone launched from a country on the Arabian Peninsula, according to security experts. According to reports, the MQ-9 Reaper has been used in a number of major attacks during different recent US administrations. According to The New York Times, it may have been used in the assassination of Iranian General Qasem Soleimani in 2020.
Why the partnership?
In an official statement issued by GA-ASI, the company expressed its confidence over its collaboration with Pune based Bharat Forge and stated that it will provide an impetus to the Indian large unmanned aircraft industry and will also result in significant capability-building for both companies.
Dr Vivek Lall, Chief Executive, General Atomics Global Corporation, said the company is looking forward to working with Bharat Forge in the critical field of aero-structure manufacturing. And the company’s expertise in the field of forging is known globally.
“Their outstanding contributions in the aerospace sector has inspired us to work together for building the next generation of the world’s most advanced unmanned aerial vehicles,” he adds.
“As part of our Aerospace Growth Strategy, our collaboration with GA-ASI is a strong testimony of our culture in Bharat Forge Aerospace to assimilate and demonstrate the same, as partners to General Atomics, in making India Atmanirbhar,” said Baba Kalyani, Chairman and Managing Director, Bharat Forge Limited.