NEW DELHI: India’s talks with the US for the purchase of 30 MQ-9B Predator armed drones are in advanced stages and talks are on to resolve some issues, people familiar with the development told PTI on Sunday.
The planned acquisition of 30 drones at a proposed cost of $3 billion (around Rs 22,000 crore) is expected to crank up India’s overall surveillance mechanism along the Line of Actual Control (LAC) in China and the Indian Ocean.
Notably, the MQ-9B drone is a variant of the MQ-9 “Reaper” that was reportedly used to fire a modified version of the Hellfire missile that struck al-Qaeda leader Ayman in the middle of Kabul last month. Al-Zawahiri was overthrown.
Sources told PTI that talks are underway between India and the US for a government-to-government purchase of drones manufactured by US defense chief General Atomics. He dismissed reports that the deal was off the table.
TOI had earlier reported that the deal was stalled due to the high cost involved and emphasis on indigenization in defense production.
General Atomics Global Corporation chief executive Dr Vivek Lal told PTI that the acquisition program is in the final stages of talks between the two governments.
Sources said the talks are focused on resolving certain issues related to cost component, weapons package and technology sharing.
It is learned that the purchase offer came up in April at the fourth two-plus-two foreign and defense ministerial dialogue between India and the US in Washington.
in 2020, Indian Navy Two MQ-9B Sea Guardian drones were leased from General Atomics for a period of one year for surveillance in the Indian Ocean. Later the lease period has been extended.
The Indian Navy is strengthening its surveillance system to monitor escalating Chinese activities, including frequent attacks by PLA warships in the Indian Ocean region.
MQ-9B DroneAlong with its state-of-the-art avionics and ground control systems, Comcasa-protected equipment such as advanced Global Positioning System (GPS), identification friend or foe (IFF) receivers and VHF systems are immune to jamming and spoofing from enemies.
The drone is designed not only to meet NATO (North Atlantic Treaty Organization) standards, but also to comply with civilian airspace requirements in the US and around the world, according to General Motors.
Remotely operated drones are capable of staying in the air for about 35 hours.
The medium-altitude long-endurance (MALE) drone is the first hunter-killer unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) designed for long-endurance and high-altitude surveillance.
(with inputs from PTI)