India in superior stage of talks with US for procuring MQ-9B drones

India is in an “advanced stage” of negotiations with the US to acquire 30 MQ-9B Predator armed drones for over USD 3 billion to crank up its surveillance equipment alongside the frontier with China in addition to within the Indian Ocean area, individuals accustomed to the developments mentioned on Sunday.

The MQ-9B drone is a variant of the MQ-9 “Reaper” which was used to launch a modified model of the Hellfire missile that eradicated al-Qaeda chief Ayman al-Zawahiri within the coronary heart of Kabul final month.

Authoritative sources within the defence institution mentioned talks between New Delhi and Washington are underway for the government-to-government procurement of the General Atomics-built drones, and rejected studies that the deal is off the desk.

Dr Vivek Lall, the Chief Executive for the General Atomics Global Corporation, instructed PTI that the acquisition programme is at a sophisticated stage of discussions between the 2 governments.

“We understand that the MQ-9B acquisition programme is at an advanced stage of discussion between the US and Indian governments,” he mentioned.

“Any questions on those discussions should be addressed specifically to the respective governments. From a company perspective, General Atomics is ready to support India and values our longtime relationship,” Lall added.

The hunter-killer drones are being procured for the three providers as they will perform a wide range of roles, together with maritime surveillance, anti-submarine warfare and over-the-horizon concentrating on.

The high-altitude long-endurance (HALE) drones are able to remaining airborne for over 35 hours and may carry 4 Hellfire missiles and round 450 kgs of bombs.

The MQ-9B has two variants SkyGuardian and its sibling SeaGuardian.

The sources mentioned the talks are targeted on finding out sure points regarding price, weapons package deal and know-how sharing.

It is learnt that the procurement proposal figured within the fourth two-plus-two overseas and defence ministerial dialogue between India and the US in Washington in April.

In 2020, the Indian Navy had taken on lease two MQ-9B Sea Guardian drones from General Atomics for one 12 months for surveillance within the Indian Ocean. The lease interval has been prolonged subsequently.

The Indian Navy has been bolstering its surveillance mechanism to observe rising Chinese actions together with frequent forays by PLA warships within the Indian Ocean Region.

When requested concerning the two drones, Lall mentioned they’ve carried out “very well” and flew shut to three,000 hours in help of the Indian Navy’s maritime and land border patrol aims.

“General Atomics has supported India over the past three years by providing two MQ-9 remotely piloted aircraft as part of a Company Owned/Company Operated (COCO) lease agreement,” he mentioned.

“Over the past six months, close to 3,000 hours have been flown in support of the Indian Navy’s maritime and land border patrol objectives, covering over 14 million square miles of operating area,” he mentioned.

“Our Indian customer has been impressed by the MQ-9’s over-the-horizon ISR (intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance) support for surface units and Indian warships, as well as the exceptional endurance and operational availability of the platform,” the highest government added.

The MQ-9Bs are designed to not solely meet the requirements of NATO (North Atlantic Treaty Organization) but additionally to adjust to civil airspace necessities within the US and all over the world, in accordance with General Atomics.

Indian armed forces have been specializing in procuring unmanned platforms, together with armed drones, within the backdrop of the japanese Ladakh border standoff with China and for monitoring actions of Chinese warships within the Indian Ocean area.

The procurement proposal has been moved by the Indian Navy and all three providers are more likely to get 10 drones every.

The drone is the primary hunter-killer unmanned aerial automobile (UAV) designed for long-endurance and high-altitude surveillance.

The MQ-9B has indicators intelligence and communications intelligence methods built-in onboard, however it will possibly take any variety of different customized sensors as crucial.

In 2019, the US permitted the sale of armed drones to India and even provided built-in air and missile defence methods.

The Indian Navy has been strongly pushing for the procurement to spice up its total surveillance over the Indian Ocean, a area that has witnessed rising forays by Chinese ships and submarines in the previous couple of years.

In February 2020, India sealed a USD 2.6 billion take care of the US for the procurement of 24 MH-60 Romeo helicopters from American aerospace main Lockheed Martin for the Indian Navy. The supply of the helicopters has already begun.

Following the japanese Ladakh standoff, India has considerably enhanced its day and night time surveillance over the Line of Actual Control (LAC) utilizing a fleet of remotely piloted plane.

The Indo-US defence ties have been on an upswing in the previous couple of years.

In June 2016, the US designated India a ‘Major Defence Partner’, paving method for sharing of important navy gear and know-how.

The two nations have additionally inked key defence and safety pacts over the previous few years, together with the Logistics Exchange Memorandum of Agreement (LEMOA) in 2016 that permits their militaries to make use of one another’s bases for restore and replenishment of provides.

The two sides signed COMCASA (Communications Compatibility and Security Agreement) in 2018 which gives for interoperability between the 2 militaries and gives for the sale of high-end know-how from the US to India.

In October 2020, India and the US sealed the BECA (Basic Exchange and Cooperation Agreement) settlement to additional enhance bilateral defence ties.

The pact gives for sharing high-end navy know-how, logistics and geospatial maps between the 2 nations.

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