The deal which is around USD 3 billion for 30 Predators from General Atomics – 10 each for the three services.
Ahead of the India-US 2+2 Ministerial Level Dialogue in the first week of December, India gets ready to formally place an order for 30 ‘Predator-B’ drones from the US based General Atomics. With these drones the Indian Navy will be able to carry out surveillance of its coastal boundaries with more clarity.
Financial Express Online had reported earlier that the deal is expected to be formalized before 2021 ends. The Indian Navy is the lead service for the Predator (MQ-9) High Altitude Long Endurance (HALE) Remotely Piloted Vehicles/Aircraft (RPV/RPA). The deal which is around USD 3 billion for 30 Predators from General Atomics – 10 each for the three services.
More about the Predators
These UAVs are easily configurable and can be customized for specific needs of the customer. Last year, the Indian Navy had leased the Predator during the height of tensions between the militaries of India and China. “These UAVs are the topmost in the world. And according to sources, the Indian Navy being the lead service identified sensors and payloads to be on board the Predator drones. ”
These drones have the capability to carry an external payload of almost 2.1 tonnes, with an endurance of more than 35 hours and fly at an altitude of more than 40,000 feet.
The Financial Express was the first to report about the request for these drones by the Indian Army and the Indian Air Force back in 2016. The first request for 22 drones was made by the Indian navy in 2016 and this was later followed by the requests made by the other two services.
A special team & story behind Sea Guardian
According to sources a special team of the country’s best unmanned crew went across the globe to select for sensor package as well as an airframe. During their journey the Indian team got an opportunity to interact with the US Air Force as well as RAF before making the choice for the airframe and sensors package. The process which was long and very tedious India’s Sea Guardian was conceived. The drones coming will be very specific to the needs of the Indian Navy as well as other services.
These drones are network centric and will help the Indian Navy’s commander at sea more flexibility as well as lesser sensor shooter timeline. These drones have the capability to share and interact with the P-8i multi-role maritime ASW as well as the MH-60R helicopters which will join the Navy soon.
Dr Vivek Lall, Chief Executive of General Atomics Global Corporation, was one of the five CEO/Presidents of global companies who were identified to meet Prime Minister Narendra Modi in September. In fact he was the only one from the Defence industry who got to meet Mr Modi in Washington DC for 15 minutes.
India-US Military trade has touched around USD 18 billion and some more deals are in the pipeline.
Each service will get drones with different configurations as the payloads they will use will vary.
Why does the Indian Navy need these drones?
These drones are in sync with the P-8i long range maritime patrol aircraft, the MH-60R multi-role helicopters which will arrive in India soon. These drones will help in tracking and hunting submarines and surface ships in the Indian Ocean region where the Chinese Navy has increased its presence.