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India to acquire 30 US-built MQ-9 Reaper drones from United States

So far, the drones are being operated for surveillance and reconnaissance missions only. 

India to acquire ten drones from United States gcw
New Delhi, First Published Jul 29, 2021, 1:10 PM IST
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With an objective to enhance the offensive capabilities of the Indian forces, the government will be acquiring 10 US-built MQ-9 Reaper or Predator B armed drones each for the Indian Army, Indian Navy and Indian Air Force. The Defence Acquisition Council (DAC), headed by Defence Minister Rajnath Singh, may take the final call next week about this deal worth $3 billion, a source in the government said.

Speaking to Asianet Newsable, a defence source said, “Earlier, one of the services was not interested in procuring the Predator B armed drones. Now, all issues have been sorted out and probably in the next DAC meeting the matter will be taken up.”

So far, the drones are being operated for surveillance and reconnaissance missions only. 

Presently, the Indian Navy is operating two Predator B drones in Indian Ocean Region which have been taken on lease from the US. These drones can only be used for surveillance purposes. It cannot be used for attack purposes.  

Once it is cleared from DAC then the Cabinet Committee on Security will give its final approval to go ahead with the deal. The procurement would be the first tri-service deal after the creation of the Chief of Defence Staff post to bring jointness and procurement requirement of three services. 

Earlier, the Indian Navy was looking for armed drones, then the Indian Army and Indian Air Force joined the league. Later, it was decided that the Predator B drones will be acquired for all three services. 

The drone is having an endurance of 48 hours and carries a payload of two tonnes. It has 9 hardpoints that can be laced with sensors, laser-guided bombs and surface to air missiles. 

Currently, India is using Israeli UAVs, DRDO-developed Netra and Rustom drones.

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