General Atomics appoints Dr Vivek Lall; looks to expand

IDD Bureau

US based General Atomics (GA), maker of armed drones which India is considering for purchase, has appointed Dr Vivek Lall as the Chief Executive of General Atomics Global Corporation at its headquarters in San Diego, California.

With Dr. Lall’s expertise, GA Global looks to expand its global footprint for managing sales, service, and international industrial collaboration in strategically important countries like Japan, Australia, the UAE, and others.

Being a prominent Indian-American aerospace and defence expert Dr Lall has played a key role in some of the major defence deals between India and the US. He has worked at senior positions at two separate US aerospace companies Boeing and  Lockheed Martin.

With GA looking to possibly work in India on several projects, Dr Lall’s experience will count.

Dr Lall had resigned in April as Vice President of Aeronautics Strategy and Business Development at Lockheed Martin, just after India and US okayed a deal to purchase 24 of the MH 60R naval helicopters.

“We are pleased to announce that Dr Vivek Lall will assume the position of Chief Executive at General Atomics Global Corporation, effective immediately,” the GA was quoted in a  statement.

The possible work of GA in India

New  Delhi is struggling with unmanned ariel systems (UAS), especially the   Medium Altitude Long Endurance (MALE) and the High Altitude Long Endurance (HALE) varieties. Separately, India wants marine drones to patrol the sea lanes of communication.

The armed forces are looking for 100 of the drones – both the armed version and for surveillance — manufactured by General Atomics of US.

A predator, one of the several UAS in GA stable, in flight. Pic General Atomics

India is looking 30 of these MQ-9 Reaper drones from GA which can also fire missiles like the hellfire. The drone can fly for 24 hours without refuelling and operate at 50,000ft altitude (modern passenger aircraft cruise at 35,000-45,000ft).

Indian Navy has finalized the size of its next aircraft carrier at 65,000 tonnes, having a full electric propulsion and will deploy the Catapult Assisted Take-Off But Arrested Recovery (CATOBAR) system for launching and retrieving fighter jets on its deck.The Electromagnetic Aircraft Launch System (EMALS) and Advanced Arresting Gear (AAG) made by GA has cleared for shipboard launch and recovery aboard USS Gerald R. Ford (CVN 78), the latest US Navy carrier..

If India okays its next aircraft carrier the option will be EMALS, which has benefits over the  Short take off  arrested landed (STOBAR) which India presently uses.

EMALS uses electromagnetic technology to launch aircraft from the deck of naval aircraft carriers and offers significant benefits over current launch systems:

Increased launch operational ability, flexible architecture to suit different platforms, capable of launching wide range of aircraft weights, reduced manning and life cycle cost, reduced thermal signature and reduced topside weight and installed volume

The GA has foliage penetration systems which could have a great market. The entire boundary in J&K with Pakistan is forested and terrorists often taken cover of tree foliage.

Also the Indian Army is facing crisis of quick and safe disposal of old ammunition. There have been critical reports by Auditor and also Parliamentary panels on the subject. GA has solutions for that too.

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