Saturday, July 01, 2023

India set to strengthen defense capabilities with acquisition of MQ-9B predator drones

India’s government is poised to commence negotiations for the procurement of MQ-9B Predator drones from General Atomics, a US-based company. This significant development follows Prime Minister Narendra Modi‘s recent visit to Washington DC, where a joint statement with President Joe Biden confirmed India’s acquisition of 31 MQ-9B drones for its armed forces.

The estimated cost of the drones, projected to be below US$ 3 billion, is expected to be substantially lower than what other countries have paid for similar cutting-edge drones. As India gears up for negotiations, the country’s defence and security establishment anticipates further cost reductions, particularly if additional features are not sought.

The acquisition of these drones, armed with specialized sensors and offering unparalleled endurance, is poised to bolster India’s defence capabilities. The Indian Navy, in particular, is eager to enhance its surveillance and reduce dependency on existing assets, making this American deal a strategic and well-founded move.

Financial Express Online has consistently reported that the deal for these drones is below US$ 3 bn. However, the price negotiations have not yet started and are expected to be almost 27 percent lower than the price other countries have paid to the US for getting the world’s best drones.

“Once the two sides sit across the table to negotiate the price could be lower unless India seeks additional features. It has also been reported that the price negotiation is still a long way off as there are several other procedures to be followed before the stage of price negotiation comes,” a source explained.

So far from India only the “Acceptance of Necessity’’ (AoN) has been accorded on June 15 before PM Modi had left for the US by the Defence Acquisition Council headed by defence minister Rajnath Singh. The DAC approval came for world’s best armed ISR (intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance) capable 31 MQ9B Predator Drones from General Atomics through government to government and through Foreign Military Sales (FMS) route.

30/06/2023 Huma Siddqui/Financial Express

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