Friday, June 23, 2017

Modi's US visit: India to get Guardian drones; F-16 jets on agenda too

The Indian armed forces will be getting 22 American-made Guardian drones after the US cleared their sale ahead of Prime Minister Narendra Modi's visit to Washington for his maiden meeting with US President Donald Trump. The clearance comes just days after the announcement of the possibility of making American F-16 fighter jets in India under the Modi government's Make in India programme.

As reported earlier by news agency PTI, the news regarding the surveillance drones came from government sources on Thursday. The deal, which is estimated to be worth $2-3 billion, is being termed as a "game-changer" for bilateral ties between the two nations.

Modi's two-day visit to Washington begins on Sunday. Trump met Chinese President Xi Jinping in April and has also had face-time with the leaders of nations including Japan, Britain, and Vietnam since taking office in January, prompting anxiety in New Delhi that India is no longer a priority in Washington.

According to informed sources, the decision was communicated to the Indian government and the manufacturer by the State Department on Thursday.

However, why do these drones matter? After all, they are unarmed. According to reports, the Indian armed forces intend to use them to keep a watch over activities in the Indian Ocean, a region which has seen the increased presence of Chinese naval assets.
23/06/17 Business Standard