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India approves deal to buy US Predator armed drones used in killing Osama bin Laden | Know about deadly weapon

India-US drone deal: The deal to procure Predator drones is likely to be announced following talks between PM Modi and US President Joe Biden in Washington next week.

Edited By: Anurag Roushan @Candid_Tilaiyan New Delhi Updated on: June 16, 2023 12:27 IST
India-US drone deal
Image Source : INDIA TV India approves deal to buy US Predator armed drones from the US

India-US drone deal: Ahead of Prime Minister Narendra Modi's scheduled visit to the United States next week, the Defence Ministry approved the procurement of Predator armed drones from America. The deal to procure 30 MQ-9B Predator drones, under a government-to-government framework, is likely to be announced following talks between PM Modi and US President Joe Biden in Washington next week.

The deal holds significance as it was the same Predator drone that was used in killing al-Qaeda leaders Osama bin Laden in 2011 and Ayman al-Zawahiri in Kabul in July 2022. According to people privy to the development, the procurement of the weaponised 'hunter-killer' drones from General Atomics was cleared at a meeting of the Defence Acquisition Council (DAC) chaired by Defence Minister Rajnath Singh on Thursday, June 15. 

It is believed that the Predator drones would help India in cranking up its surveillance apparatus along the frontiers with China as well as in the Indian Ocean region. The approval to the long-awaited procurement following years of negotiations came around 10 days after US Defence Secretary Lloyd Austin held wide-ranging talks with Singh that focused on significantly expanding overall strategic and defence engagement between the two countries.

Key points about deadly Predator armed drones:

  • The MQ-9B drone is a variant of the MQ-9 "Reaper" which was used to launch a modified version of the Hellfire missile
  • The drone can carry out a variety of roles including maritime surveillance, anti-submarine warfare and over-the-horizon targeting
  • The MQ-9B drone has two variants -- Sky Guardian and its sibling Sea Guardian
  • The drone is the first hunter-killer unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) designed for long-endurance and high-altitude surveillance
  • The MQ-9B has signals intelligence and communications intelligence systems integrated onboard
  • The Reapers can employ up to eight laser-guided missiles and Air-to-Ground Missile
  • It can also be disassembled and loaded into a single container for deployment 
  • The MQ-9 drone is larger, heavier, more capable and can be controlled by the same ground systems.

US gave nod to sale of armed drones to India in 2019

Earlier in 2019, the US approved the sale of armed drones to India and even offered integrated air and missile defence systems. The Indian Navy has been strongly pushing for the procurement to boost its overall surveillance over the Indian Ocean, a region that has witnessed increasing forays by Chinese ships and submarines in the last few years.

Following the eastern Ladakh standoff, India has significantly enhanced its day and night surveillance over the Line of Actual Control (LAC) using a fleet of remotely piloted aircraft. The Indo-US defence ties have been on an upswing in the last few years.

India-US relations

India-US bilateral relations have developed into a "global strategic partnership", based on shared democratic values and increasing convergence of interests on bilateral, regional and global issues. Regular exchange of high-level political visits has provided sustained momentum to bilateral cooperation, while the wide-ranging and ever-expanding dialogue architecture has established a long-term framework for India-US. engagement.

Today, the India-US bilateral cooperation is broad-based and multi-sectoral, covering trade and investment, defence and security, education, science and technology, cyber security, high technology, civil nuclear energy, space technology and applications, clean energy, environment, agriculture and health. India and the United States have also stepped up their cooperation among multilateral groups such as 'The Quad' and 'I2U2 Group'.'

(With inputs from agencies) 



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