India in Talks with US to Procure MQ-9B Drones, to Upgrade Defence Along LAC

The Indian Navy is in advanced talks with the US government to procure 30 MQ-9B Predator armed drones at a cost of over USD 3 billion.
India in Talks with US to Procure MQ-9B Drones, to Upgrade Defence Along LAC
MQ-9B drones

The US government and India are in advanced negotiations to buy MQ-9B drones for India in order to modernize its overall surveillance system along the Line of Actual Control (LAC) with China and in the Indian Ocean.

Highlights:

  • India is in the advanced stage of talks with the US government to procure MQ-9B drones to upgrade the overall surveillance apparatus along the Line of Actual Control (LAC) with China and in the Indian OceanAiming to upgrade the overall surveillance apparatus along the Line of Actual Control (LAC) with China and in the Indian Ocean, India is in the advanced stage of negotiating with the US to procure 30 MQ-9B Predator armed drones at a cost of over USD 3 billion, people familiar with the development informed on Sunday.
  • The drones are well equipped to assist the defence forces in a variety of duties including maritime surveillance, anti-submarine warfare, over-the-horizon targeting and hitting stationary ground targets.
  • The long-endurance-hunter-killer drones are being procured for the three defence services.
  • The aim is to monitor growing Chinese activities including frequent forays by PLA warships in the Indian Ocean Region.
  • The procurement proposal has been moved by the Indian Navy and all three services are likely to get 10 drones each.

India is in the advanced stages of negotiations with the US to purchase 30 MQ-9B Predator armed drones at a cost of over USD 3 billion in order to upgrade the overall surveillance apparatus along the Line of Actual Control (LAC) with China and in the Indian Ocean, according to people familiar with the development on Sunday.


In addition to maritime surveillance, anti-submarine warfare, over-the-horizon targeting, and hitting fixed ground targets, the drones are well-equipped to support the defense forces in a range of operations. The three defense services are buying the long-endurance hunter-killer drones.


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 center of Kabul last month.


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

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Dr. Vivek Lall, CEO of General Atomics Global Corporation, disclosed that the transaction is in the advanced stages of negotiations between the two countries.


We hear that the US and Indian governments are at an advanced level of discussion regarding the MQ-9B acquisition program, he said.


"Any inquiries on those discussions ought to be made directly to the relevant governments. From a corporate standpoint, General Atomics values our long-standing partnership with India and is prepared to sustain 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 request for discussions to purchase drones was made during the fourth two-plus-two foreign and defense ministerial meeting between India and the US in Washington in April.


India's MQ-9B Experience

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.


The Chinese side's frequent meddling has led to the Indian Navy strengthening its surveillance system. Monitoring rising Chinese activity, such as regular forays by PLA warships into the Indian Ocean region, is the goal.


Regarding the two drones that had been leased and were now in use, Lall stated that they had "very well" performed and had flown for nearly 3,000 hours in support of the goals of the Indian Navy's maritime and land border patrol, spanning an operating area of more than 14 million square miles.


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 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 first hunter-killer unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) built for long-endurance and high-altitude surveillance, the medium-altitude long-endurance (MALE) drone can stay in the air for about 35 hours.


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 defense systems.


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.

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