India has formally asked the United States for Predator C Unmanned Combat Aerial Vehicles (UCAVs), a leading defence journal says.
Reliable sources told India Strategic that the Predator C requirement has been mentioned at a very high level during Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s just-concluded visit to Washington. Now that India is getting into the Missile Technology Control Regime (MTCR), President Barack Obama will ask the State and Defense Departments to consider the Indian request.
Predator C is made by General Atomics Aeronautical System Inc. (GA-ASI), which has already offered an unarmed version, Predator XP, to the Indian Air Force (IAF) and Indian Navy for reconnaissance purposes.
The number of drones required by India is not known but the UCAV, also known as Avenger, will be operated by the Indian Air Force which, in any case, is also short of manned combat jets. In the troubled terror-infested environment around India, a combination of manned and unmanned precision strike aircraft and systems is an immediate necessity.
The IAF had, in fact, asked the Ministry of Defence for strike drones – or UCAVs – at least six or seven years ago.
Avenger is a further development of the MQ 9 Reaper, which is extensively used by the US CIA to neutralise terrorists with precision strikes and minimum collateral damage.
Avenger has a turboprop engine, some stealth features, a highly sophisticated Synthetic Aperture Radar (SAR) for reconnaissance and targeting and can carry air-to-ground missiles like the Hellfire. It can be controlled from anywhere in the world through satellite connectivity.
Notably, although a strike drone like the Predator C has no onboard pilot, its operation requires a couple of people at the control station to monitor the target area and then to command the machine to shoot after due verification.