One of San Diego county's most lucrative businesses is also one of its quietest, churning out politically-incorrect products that draw sparse local media coverage while playing a key role in the world munitions market and making a bundle for the firm's La Jolla owners.
General Atomics, privately held by brothers Linden and Neal Blue, maker of killer drones that cruise over battle zones across the globe, has just opened a sales office in New Delhi, India.
"We are very pleased to open our first office in India, and to have Pratesh Gandhi join the General Atomics team,” says Linden P. Blue in a November 27 company news release. Before he went to work for General Atomics, Ghandi was a joint director of the Indian defense ministry.
“His expertise working with the Indian Navy provides General Atomics with an invaluable local resource to further develop and strengthen strategic and long-term relationships with the Government of India. We are looking forward to fostering new opportunities for collaboration to advance critical systems and technologies for Indian defense applications.”
Among products General Atomics is hawking to the Indian government are its "MQ-9B SeaGuardian Unmanned Aerial System, and electromagnetic aircraft launch and recovery systems for Indian aircraft carriers," per the release. According to Flight Global, the Indian Navy currently operates one aircraft carrier, bought from the Russians in 2004, and is building another.
“Establishing an office in New Delhi positions us to better collaborate with our Indian customers to deliver capabilities that address emerging security challenges in the region,” adds Blue's statement.
The company's carrier catapult being touted to the Indians is the same one that has been persistenty questioned by president Donald Trump, who last month continued his long-running criticism of the Blue-developed system by asking the commander of the USS Ronald Reagan whether he supported switching to the new technology.
"Steam is very reliable, and the electromagnetic — I mean, unfortunately, you have to be Albert Einstein to really work it properly," Trump said to Capt. Pat Hannifin, who responded, "You sort of have to be Albert Einstein to run the nuclear power plants that we have here as well, but we’re doing that very well."
When Trump first voiced his skepticism of the e-catapult program back in May of last year,insiders noted that Linden Blue had backed the wrong horse in 2016's presidential primaries, kicking in $2900 for Florida Republican Sen. Marco Rubio, but nothing for Trump. Linden's brother Neal gave $6000 to Rubio's Senate reelection fund.
This September, Linden contributed $2000 to another Trump target, Senate Democrat Joe Manchin of West Virginia, and in July he kicked in $2500 for the House re-election campaign of Alabama Republican Martha Roby. A former Trump critic, Roby hung onto her seat in a contested primary by vowing fealty to the president.
Linden's brother Neal came up with $25,000 on October 29 for the Mississippi Victory Fund, which backed the successful Senate candidacy of Trump-backed Republican Cindy Hyde-Smith. On the other hand, he gave $2700 to Manchin on October 3, and on August 24 produced $7700 for the Senate re-election bid of New Jersey Democrat Robert Menendez, along with $2300 for the New Jersey Democratic State Committee. On March 30 Neal gave $5400 to the reelection bid of La Jolla Democrat Scott Peters.
Both siblings were substantial contributors to the General Atomics Political Action Committee, which spent a record $893,432 during the 2018 election cycle, per the website Open Secrets. House Democrat Marcy Kaptur of Ohio topped the list of recipients, with $11,000. Local Democratic congressmembers Susan Davis and Scott Peters each picked up $10,000, as did embattled Republican Duncan Hunter.