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India plans to buy 30 Predator B drones from the US

MQ-9 Reaper during Exercise Northern Strike 2019. (Arizona Air National Guard/Released)
March 16, 2021

As prominent military forces focus on standoff strike options with long-range missiles and drones, India finally gears up for its long-awaited deal after evaluating the performance of two leased Sea Guardian drones by the Indian Navy.

Three branches of the Indian Armed Forces — the Navy, Army, and Air Force – will be seeking joint procurement of 30 combat variants of US-built Unmanned Aerial Vehicles, which would be worth $3 billion, according to The Print.

The MQ-9B or Predator-B is a High Altitude Long Endurance Combat Drone built by General Atomics. The UCAV has an endurance of 48 hours and a range of over 6,000 nautical miles. It comes with nine hard-points, capable of carrying powerful recon sensors and laser-guided bombs, like GBU-12 and GBU-38 hellfire air-to-ground missiles, with a maximum payload of two tonnes.

Since 2007, the drone has played an active role in neutralizing terrorist-laden regions through U.S. and NATO overseas deployments in insurgent regions, especially Afghanistan, Pakistan, Syria, Libya and Iraq.

The Navy, which is leading the deal for procurement of HALE (High Altitude Long Endurance) UAVs, will seek the formal Acceptance of Necessity (AON) from the DAC to initiate the official process for acquisition of armed drones.