MQ-9B Drones: India will keep an eye on China and Indian Ocean with the same drone that killed Zawahiri, talks in final stage

MQ-9B drones is a variant of the MQ-9 ‘Reaper’, which was used to fire a modified version of the Hellfire missile that killed al-Qaeda leader Ayman al-Zawahiri in Kabul last month.

India to buy 30 MQ-9B Predator armed drones at a cost of over $3 billion to strengthen its surveillance system in the Indian Ocean region along the Line of Actual Control (LAC) with China The talks with the US are in the final stages. Officials aware of this development gave this information on Sunday.

was used to kill al-Zawahiri

The MQ-9B drone is a variant of the MQ-9 ‘Reaper’, which was used to fire a modified version of the Hellfire missile that killed al-Qaeda leader Ayman al-Zawahiri in Kabul last month. Official sources in the defense establishment said that talks are underway between New Delhi and Washington for government-level purchase of drones manufactured by the US defense major General Atomics. He dismissed reports that the deal is no longer under negotiation.

Negotiations on the purchase program between the two governments are in the final stage

Dr Vivek Lal, Chief Executive, General Atomics Global Corporation, said that the talks on the procurement program between the two governments are in the final stages. He said, “We believe that the talks between the US and Indian governments regarding the MQ-9B acquisition program are in the final stages.” This drone is being purchased for the three armed forces (Army, Air Force and Navy). These drones are capable of performing a variety of tasks including maritime vigilance, anti-submarine warfare, out-of-the-air targets and targets on land.

MQ-9B drone can stay in the air for about 35 hours

The remote-operated drones manufactured by US defense company General Atomics can stay in the air for up to 35 hours. It can be deployed for multiple purposes including surveillance, intelligence gathering and destroying enemy positions. It can carry four Hellfire missiles and about 450 kg of warheads. There are two variants of the MQ-9B, the Sky Guardian and the Sea Guardian. Sources said the talks are focused on resolving certain issues related to the cost component, weapons package and technology sharing.

It is understood that the purchase proposal was also discussed during the ‘two plus two’ (foreign and defense minister level) talks between India and the US in Washington in April. The Indian Navy had received two ‘MQ-9B Sea Guardian’ drones on lease from the US in 2020 mainly for surveillance in the Indian Ocean region. The two non-weapon MQ-9B drones were leased for one year and there was an option to extend the period by another year.

Navy has taken two drones on lease

In 2020, the Navy leased two MQ 9-B Sea Guardian drones from General Atomics for surveillance of the Indian Ocean region. China was increasing the movement of its military ships in the region. The Indian Navy is strengthening its surveillance system to monitor the growing activities of China, including warships of the Chinese Army PLA, in the Indian Ocean region. Asked about these two drones, Lal said they have performed “very well” and have flown nearly 3,000 hours for patrolling the Indian Navy’s maritime and terrestrial border. He said Indian customers have been impressed with the performance of the MQ-9.

3000 hours usage

In 6 months, the Navy used these drones for 3,000 hours in an area of ​​​​14 million square miles. The operating and ownership rights belonged to the company itself.

10-10 drones for the three services

According to General Motors, the MQ9-B is designed to meet not only NATO (North Atlantic Treaty Organization) standards but also the requirements of civilian airspace in the US and around the world. The Indian Navy had proposed for the purchase of this drone and the three services are likely to get 10-10 drones. These drones are also called Medium Altitude Long Endurance (Male) Drones. After the military standoff with China in Ladakh, emphasis is being given on their purchase. The ‘Predator’ drone has been specially designed for long-term airborne and high altitude surveillance. The Indian armed forces are focusing on procuring such weapons after the standoff with China in eastern Ladakh.

MH-60 helicopters started arriving from America

In view of the standoff with China, in February 2020, India signed a $260 million agreement with the US for the Navy for the purchase of 24 MH-60 Romeo helicopters from the American company Lockheed Martin, whose supplies have started. The US had approved the sale of armed drones to India in 2019 and also offered integrated air and missile defense systems. India-US defense ties have strengthened over the years.

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