India Acquires Predator Drones

The state visit of Prime Minister Narendra Modi to the United States holds great significance in enhancing relations between the two nations. Alongside improving diplomatic ties, India is set to acquire MQ-9B Predator (“Reaper”) drones from General Atomics, a deal that will further bolster India’s defense capabilities.  

Improving Relations and Defense Capabilities 

The purpose of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s state visit to the US is to strengthen relations between the two countries. The discussions during the visit are focused on enhancing diplomatic ties and fostering collaboration in various sectors, including defense. India’s acquisition of MQ-9B Predator drones is a significant step towards reinforcing its defense capabilities and strategic surveillance. 

MQ-9B Predator Drones 

India will purchase 30 MQ-9B Predator drones from General Atomics, a leading manufacturer of unmanned aerial systems. These drones are known for their advanced capabilities in terms of endurance, surveillance, and strike capabilities. The MQ-9B Predator drones come in two variants – SkyGuardian and SeaGuardian, providing India with versatile options for deployment. 

Phased Acquisition and Command Centers 

Out of the 30 drones, initially, 10 will be acquired without weapons. This phased acquisition approach allows for the absorption of technology and gradual integration of advanced features. Furthermore, India plans to establish three tri-service intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance command centers. These centers will play a crucial role in effectively utilizing the acquired drones and ensuring optimal surveillance along India’s northern boundaries, particularly the frontier with China. 

Approval and Expected Value 

The proposal to acquire the MQ-9B Predator drones was approved by the Defense Acquisition Council (DAC), headed by Defense Minister Rajnath Singh. The deal, expected to be valued at nearly USD 3 billion, demonstrates India’s commitment to modernize its defense infrastructure and bolster national security. 

Endurance and Mobility 

The General Atomics MQ-9 Reaper, which is the basis for the MQ-9B Predator drones, offers an impressive endurance of over 27 hours. This extended flight time allows for prolonged surveillance missions and persistent monitoring of targeted areas. Additionally, the MQ-9 Reaper can be disassembled and loaded into a container for easy deployment. It can be transported using aircraft such as the C-130 Hercules or larger platforms, ensuring mobility and flexibility in operational theaters. 



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