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Indian Predator Drones Deal with US Advances to $3 Billion

by TST Team
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People with knowledge of the situation said on Sunday that India is in the advanced stages of negotiations with the US to purchase 30 MQ-9B Predator armed drones for more than USD 3 billion in order to ramp up its overall surveillance apparatus along the Line of Actual Control (LAC) with China and in the Indian Ocean.

The MQ-9B drone, a variation of the MQ-9 “Reaper,” is said to have fired a modified Hellfire missile that killed Ayman al-Zawahiri, the leader of al-Qaeda, in the centre of Kabul last month.

According to reliable defence establishment sources, negotiations between New Delhi and Washington for the government-to-government purchase of drones made by US defence firm General Atomics are in progress. These sources also refuted claims that the transaction is off the table.

General Atomics Global Corporation CEO Dr. Vivek Lall told PTI that negotiations between the two countries are far along in the acquisition programme.

He added, “We hear that the US and Indian governments are at an advanced level of discussion regarding the MQ-9B procurement plan.

“Any inquiries on those discussions ought to be made directly to the relevant governments. General Atomics, as a corporation, values our long-standing connection with India and is prepared to help it “And Lall.

According to the sources, the discussions are mostly aimed at resolving concerns about the cost component, the arsenal, and technology sharing.

The three military are buying the long-endurance hunter killer drones because they can perform a range of tasks, such as maritime surveillance, anti-submarine warfare, over-the-horizon targeting, and attacking stationary ground targets.

Deal Between India and the US for $3 billion in Predator drones is advanced: Report
The Navy leased two MQ-9B drones from General Atomics in 2020. (FILE)

New Delhi: According to persons with knowledge of the situation, India and the US are in advanced stages of discussions to buy 30 MQ-9B Predator armed drones for over $3 billion to bolster India’s comprehensive surveillance system along the Line of Actual Control (LAC) with China and in the Indian Ocean.
The three military are buying the long-endurance hunter killer drones because they can perform a range of tasks, such as maritime surveillance, anti-submarine warfare, over-the-horizon targeting, and attacking stationary ground targets.
AD

The MQ-9B drone, a variation of the MQ-9 “Reaper,” is said to have fired a modified Hellfire missile that killed Ayman al-Zawahiri, the leader of al-Qaeda, in the centre of Kabul last month.

According to reliable defence establishment sources, negotiations between New Delhi and Washington for the government-to-government purchase of drones made by US defence firm General Atomics are in progress. These sources also refuted claims that the transaction is off the table.

General Atomics Global Corporation CEO Dr. Vivek Lall told PTI that negotiations between the two countries are far along in the acquisition programme.

He added, “We hear that the US and Indian governments are at an advanced level of discussion regarding the MQ-9B procurement plan.

“Any inquiries on those discussions ought to be made directly to the relevant governments. General Atomics, as a corporation, values our long-standing connection with India and is prepared to help it “And Lall.

According to the sources, the discussions are mostly aimed at resolving concerns about the cost component, the arsenal, and technology sharing.
AD

The fourth two-plus-two foreign and defence ministerial conversation between India and the US took place in Washington in April, according to what is known. The procurement proposal was discussed there.

General Atomics leased two MQ-9B Sea Guardian drones to the Indian Navy in 2020 for a year of monitoring in the Indian Ocean. After that, the lease’s term was extended.

In order to keep track on expanding Chinese activity, such as repeated forays by PLA warships into the Indian Ocean region, the Indian Navy has been strengthening its surveillance system.

When questioned about the two drones, Lall stated that they had “very well” performed and had flown for about 3,000 hours in support of the goals of the Indian Navy’s maritime and land border patrol.

He claimed that as part of a company owned/company operated (COCO) lease deal, General Atomics had sent two MQ-9 remotely piloted aircraft to India over the previous three years.

According to him, nearly 14 million square miles of operating area have been covered in the past six months of flying in support of the Indian Navy’s maritime and land border patrol missions.

The senior official continued, “Our Indian customer has been impressed by the MQ-9’s over-the-horizon ISR (intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance) support for Indian warships and surface troops, as well as the platform’s remarkable endurance and operational availability.

According to General Motors, the MQ-9Bs are made to not only adhere to NATO (North Atlantic Treaty Organization) standards but also to civil airspace regulations in the US and other countries.

The Indian Navy has moved the procurement proposal, and it is likely that each of the three services would receive 10 drones.

The remotely controlled drones have a 35-hour flight endurance range.

The first hunter-killer unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) created for long-endurance and high-altitude surveillance is the medium-altitude long-endurance (MALE) drone.

Following the stalemate with China in eastern Ladakh, the Indian armed services have concentrated on acquiring unmanned assets, notably armed drones.

India was able to purchase weaponized drones from the US in 2019, and the US even provided integrated air and missile defence systems.

A region that has seen an increase in excursions by Chinese ships and submarines in recent years, the Indian Navy has been lobbying hard for the acquisition to improve its overall surveillance over the Indian Ocean.

In February 2020, India and the US signed a contract for the purchase of 24 MH-60 Romeo helicopters from American aerospace giant Lockheed Martin for the Indian Navy in the amount of USD 2.6 billion (one billion = 100 crores). The helicopter deliveries have already started.

India has greatly increased its day and night surveillance over the LAC utilising a fleet of remotely piloted aircraft in response to the eastern Ladakh standoff.

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