US Clears Sale Of 31 MQ-9B Armed Drones To India For Nearly $4 Billion

The Defense Security Cooperation Agency alerted the US Congress to the clearance sale of 31 MQ-9B armed drones to India for nearly $4 billion.

US Clears Sale Of 31 MQ-9B Armed Drones To India For Nearly $4 Billion 1

In a deal that is about $4 billion in value, the US has approved the sale of MQ-9B Sea Guardian drones to India. The necessary certification has been issued by the Defense Security Cooperation Agency, alerting the US Congress to the potential sale today.

While on a state visit to the US last year, Prime Minister Narendra Modi of India planned to buy 31 MQ-9B Sky Guardian drones. The government-to-government agreement marks a significant turning point with the approval of the Biden administration.

“This proposed sale will support the foreign policy and national security objectives of the United States by helping to strengthen the U.S.-Indian strategic relationship and to improve the security of a major defense partner that continues to be an important force for political stability, peace, and economic progress in the Indo-Pacific and South Asia region,” Defence Security Cooperation Agency said.

The Indian Navy took action after the warship INS Chennai boarded the merchant ship MV Lila Norfolk, which had been ambushed by pirates off the coast of Somalia.

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“The proposed sale will improve India’s capability to meet current and future threats by enabling unmanned surveillance and reconnaissance patrols in sea lanes of operation. India has demonstrated a commitment to modernizing its military and will have no difficulty absorbing these articles and services into its armed forces,” the agency added.

Landmark Deal

Following nearly six years of negotiations, Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s visit to the United States signaled the completion of the $3.99 billion government-to-government defense contract. The Indian Army, Navy, and Air Force will make use of the 31 drones.

The US agency’s clearance coincides with rumors in the media that the US had shelved the agreement due to an accused Indian national’s abortive attempt to kill India-designated Khalistani terrorist Gurpatwant Singh Pannun.

The sale appears to be moving forward now that the Biden administration has approved it. Previously, US State Department spokesperson Matthew Miller stated,  “Of course, Congress plays an important role in the US arms transfer process. We routinely consult with members of Congress on the foreign affairs committees before our formal notification so we can address questions that they might have, but I don’t have any comment on when that formal notification might take place,”   He also stated that he has not seen any news on this in the Indian media.

In an attempt to allay concerns about the sale of drones, the spokesperson for the External Affairs Ministry, Randhir Jaiswal, stated at a press conference that “this specific matter relates to the US side.” We honor their internal procedures since they are set in place. I would want to make my comment there.” The news claiming that the US had vetoed the drone sale was deemed bogus by the fact-checking arm of the Press Information Bureau at the Center.

The Predators

The Indian Army and Air Force will receive eight of each of the land-based SkyGuardian drones, while the Indian Navy will receive fifteen SeaGuardian drones. Although General Atomics Aeronautical, a commercial defense company in the US, makes the MQ-9B, the purchase is a result of a government-to-government agreement.

The planned purchase had also come up during November’s discussions in Delhi between US Defense Secretary Lloyd J. Austin and Indian counterpart Rajnath Singh. Last year, the Defence Acquisition Council gave its initial approval—the Acceptance of Necessity—for the purchase of 31 MQ-9B drones from the United States under the foreign military sale method.

The drones, sometimes known as “Predators,” are remotely controlled aircraft devices that are useful for intelligence gathering, reconnaissance, and offensive activities all over the world. The name “High Altitude Long Endurance” (HALE) drones refer to the fact that they may travel over the horizon for more than forty hours via satellite.

The drone is a component of the historic defense agreement and is also capable of carrying four laser-guided Hellfire Missiles and 450 kg of bombs. Drones could be used in missions in the Indian Ocean region and along China’s Line of Actual Control (LAC) on warships. The employment of remotely piloted systems signals a change in combat when human-powered and remotely piloted platforms coexist and play a significant role.

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