An official website of the United States government
Here's how you know
A .mil website belongs to an official U.S. Department of Defense organization in the United States.
A lock (lock ) or https:// means you’ve safely connected to the .mil website. Share sensitive information only on official, secure websites.

Home : Media : News : Article View
NEWS | April 18, 2024

U.S.-India Joint Working Group on Aircraft Carrier Technology Cooperation concludes 7th meeting with PEO Aircraft Carriers

By Program Executive Office Aircraft Carriers Public Affairs

WASHINGTON NAVY YARD, DC –The seventh meeting of the U.S.-India Joint Working Group on Aircraft Carrier Technology Cooperation (JWGACTC) concluded on Friday at the Washington Navy Yard, with a session hosted by Rear Adm. Casey Moton, PEO Aircraft Carriers.  The three-day engagement marked a successful, bilateral exchange of information and best practices in the areas of carrier design and aviation integration.

Rear Adm. Sandeep Mehta, Assistant Controller Warship Production and Acquisition/Assistant Controller of Carrier Projects for the Indian Navy, led the Indian delegation; and Capt. Brian Metcalf, who manages the Gerald R. Ford-Class New Construction Program Office (PMS 378), represented the United States delegation.

The sessions, launched in August 2015 as part of a U.S.-India Defense Technology and Trade Initiative (DTTI), extend the legacy of cooperation between the two Indo-Pacific nations.  India hosted the last session in March 2023.

“Security cooperation in the Indo-Pacific region requires collaboration and building relationships in the shipyards and on the deckplates that enhance interoperability,” said Moton.  “Our Working Group conducts productive monthly on-line meetings throughout the year, but the chance to ask questions, to share best practices, and to get to know our counterparts in person is invaluable.”

Earlier this year, the Indian Navy demonstrated the operational capabilities of its first indigenously-built aircraft carrier, INS Vikrant, commissioned in September 2022.  The conventionally-powered INS Vikrant conducted dual-carrier operations with INS Vikramaditya in the Bay of Bengal during the multinational naval drill, Exercise Milan 2024—operations that reflect the Indian government’s realization of Atmanirbhar Bharat: a self-reliant India. 

“The technology and aircraft on our carriers may differ, but we share a common goal of building and maintaining uniquely capable capital ships and systems that help to deter aggressors who seek to threaten freedom of the seas and to challenge the rule of law,” said Moton.

“The U.S. shipbuilding enterprise is accelerating efforts to drive innovation into our design and maintenance processes, so it’s rewarding to see India’s progress in building aircraft carriers and the fruits of shared technological innovations taking root in our collective modernization efforts.”

Rear Adm. Mehta noted that the working group has come a long way since its first meeting in 2015, with open communications establishing a fruitful continuity of effort.  “We’ve maintained a good tempo and we’ve seen a number of productive offshoots from our meetings,” said Mehta.  “Collaboration is so very important, now, with our ships operating in the Gulf of Aden and yours in the Red Sea.  We have established a forum for the exchange of ideas, and this relationship deepens mutual understanding and supports our shared objective of securing free and open oceans.”

JWGACTC Tour Highlights

The delegation’s three-day tour provided the JWGACTC delegation a look at innovations underway across the Navy’s shipbuilding enterprise, as well as a glimpse of the U.S. defense industrial base.

The tour began at the Naval Surface Warfare Center Carderock Division (NSWCCD) in Bethesda, MD, home to naval experts in maritime science and technology as well as world-class facilities and laboratories, providing cradle-to-grave support for products and programs related to surface and undersea platforms.  The working group discussed areas of mutual interest in several technology areas, including topside aircraft carrier systems and aircraft/ship integration.

In the afternoon, the delegation attended the 2024 Sea-Air-Space conference and exposition, sponsored by the Navy League of the United States, and visited with defense industry leaders and decision makers.

The working group then headed to Hampton Roads, and meetings with Huntington Ingalls Industries-Newport News Shipbuilding (HII-NNS), at the Virginia Advanced Shipbuilding Carrier Integration Center.  VASCIC is a hub for the design, integration, and testing of navigation, communication, weapon, and other ship systems for aircraft carriers.  The facility also provides education, training, and retraining opportunities for workers in the shipbuilding industry.

While at HII-NNS, the delegation toured the future John F. Kennedy (CVN 79), the second ship in the Gerald R. Ford-class of aircraft carriers, before heading over to Norfolk Naval Station to see USS Gerald R. Ford (CVN 78).

The FORD returned home from its first operational deployment in January, and the ship’s commanding officer, Capt. Rick Burgess, was on hand to share key moments from FORD’s successful mission in the Eastern Mediterranean, responding to the attacks on Israel in October 2023.

“This was a special moment for the delegation,” noted Metcalf, “because when the very first Indian Navy delegation visited Norfolk in 2015, they toured FORD when she was still in construction.  Now, our Indian counterparts were able to walk the flight deck and see first-hand a tested aircraft carrier and its impressive new technologies.”

Metcalf added that ship’s force briefed the Indian delegation on FORD’s Aircraft Launch and Recovery Equipment, including the ship’s Electromagnetic Aircraft Launch System and Advanced Arresting Gear, as well as flight deck control.  Currently, the Indian Navy employs a short takeoff barrier-assisted recovery or STOBAR system to launch aircraft off a ski-jump ramp.

After meeting with Rear Adm. Douglas Verissimo, Commander, Naval Air Forces Atlantic, the working group returned to Washington, D.C., for a series of technical briefings with Moton at PEO Aircraft Carriers on the Washington Navy Yard.

“The last day is always enlightening, as we get a chance to discuss our objectives, respective challenges, and the way ahead,” said Moton.  “There’s a year’s worth of preparation that goes into this final session, so it’s rewarding to see how the homework translates into approaches for leveraging resources, building smarter, and applying the right technology to get our carriers out of the shipyard and operating together at sea.”

Moton noted that when Prime Minister Narendra Modi commissioned the INS Vikrant, he described the aircraft carrier as not just a warship, but a testament to the hard work, talent, influence and commitment of India in the 21st century.

“It’s a powerful message to hear Prime Minister Modi say that INS Vikrant is a unique reflection of India becoming self-reliant, because these words underscore the unique perspective and bond that India and the United States share as nations who build, maintain, and deploy aircraft carriers at sea.  There really is no other task or mission like it in the world,” said Moton.

Building on this highly successful meeting, the 8th JWGACTC meeting is scheduled to be held in India in early 2025.