The proposal to buy 30 drones for the three services: Navy, Air Force and Army from the US based General Atomics is under process.
Responding to a question raised by Financial Express Online during the annual presser ahead of the Navy Day on Dec 4, the Indian Navy Chief Admiral R Hari Kumar said: “The case to buy 30 MQ-9B Predator drones is under process. We are discussing whether the numbers have to be rationalized.”
Financial Express Online was the first to report that the deal for the 30 MQ-9B Predator Drones deal was on track and the discussions were going on. And the Navy chief on Saturday confirmed the same.
According to the Chief ‘’It has reached a stage where we have to think about the numbers (30 drones are being negotiated for) need to be rationalized.”
It was first reported here that the Indian Army too had expressed its interest in buying these drones. The Indian navy is the lead service for this drone deal under which each service is expected to get 10 drones each.
Also Read: US offers ToT to build HALE Drones in India
It has been reported in Financial Express Online that the Navy has leased two High Altitude Long Endurance (HALE) drones — MQ-9B Sea Guardian drones from General Atomics in 2020 following the Galwan Valley incident from the US based General Atomics. These drones have played a significant role in the surveillance of the IOR. Initially the lease was for one year and this was subsequently extended. It has been reported that the leased drones were deployed for both maritime as well as land surveillance operations and they had operated alongside the P-8 – this aircraft is a multi-mission maritime patrol aircraft from the US based Boeing Company, and is deployed to keep an eye on the growing presence of the Chinese boats in the region.
The Navy, according to the chief is very satisfied with the performance of the leased drones.
The deal for the drones which is under negotiation is at a cost is below US $ 3 billion and is going to be for the three services and these when they are inducted will help to strengthen surveillance capabilities of the three services, especially the Indian Navy which plays an important role in keeping an eye on China and IOR.
Earlier this year, it was an MQ-9 drone which was used to fire Hellfire RX9 missile and the target was Al-Qaeda leader Ayman al-Zawahiri in Kabul, Afghanistan. He was eliminated.
This deal is going to be concluded through Foreign Military Sales route (FMS) and as part of India’s journey towards self-reliance the US side has also offered Transfer of Technology (ToT) to help design and build HALE drones in India.