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Top US official to visit India for talks on defence initiative

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NEW DELHI (PTI): Senior Pentagon official Frank Kendall will arrive here later this week to hold talks on the Defence Trade and Technology Initiative (DTTI), firmed up during US President Barack Obama's visit last month.

Kendall, US Under Secretary of Defence for Acquisition, Technology and Logistics (AT&L), will hold talks with senior officials of the Ministry of Defence on February 25.

This would be his second visit this year. In January, Kendall, Pentagon's point person on India-related defence issues, particularly on DTTI, along with Indian officials had agreed upon four "pathfinder projects".

Besides looking to finalise the intricacies of the agreed projects, more proposals would be discussed during Kendall's upcoming visit. This will include discussions on the Working Group to explore aircraft carrier technology besides designing and development of jet engine technology.

India is interested in EMALS (Electromagnetic Aircraft Launch System), which propels fighters into the sky from carrier decks, thereby allowing increased payload of the aircraft and saving of fuel.

India currently operates two aircraft carriers and a third one is under construction. Defence sources estimate that it will take at least 15 years before another carrier with such a technology come up.

The US is using this next-generation technology on its new Gerald R Ford Class carrier, which is currently under construction.

About two years ago, the US had proposed a list of 17 items under DTTI. It had also asked India to give a list of projects that it was interested in.

After consultations, the Indian side presented a list of about six high-technology projects that it wanted to procure and jointly produce.

However, the US is understood to have turned them down citing its law on export of military hardware to countries that were not signatories to three foundational documents that the previous UPA government had not agreed to.

Finally, with political push from the White House and the Prime Minister's Office, the two sides agreed upon the four "pathfinder projects" and a Working Group for the other two.

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