Indian Navy Clears Deal for 31 Predator Drones from US
Indian Navy Clears Deal for 31 Predator Drones from US

The Indian Navy is gearing up to expand its capabilities with the approval of a crucial deal to purchase 31 Predator drones from the United States. Chief Admiral R Hari Kumar announced the milestone, indicating that the Defence Acquisition Council has given the green light for the contract signing, expected in the coming months.

Admiral Kumar expressed confidence in the progress of the deal, stating, "We are leading the process. The Defence Acquisition Council has cleared the letter of request, which has been sent to the US government. They have provided us with a draft letter of availability. The final one is pending approval from the US Congressional committee."

The procurement of these drones is anticipated to greatly enhance India's surveillance and reconnaissance capabilities, particularly in maritime operations. Valued at around USD 4 billion, the contract includes provisions for weapons and equipment necessary for operational deployment.

The acquisition process involves a lead time for manufacturing and delivery, with the first drone expected to be operational in approximately 36 months. Admiral Kumar stressed the importance of this acquisition for bolstering India's national security interests, especially in the maritime domain.

Alongside acquiring Predator drones, the Indian Navy is actively involved in fostering regional maritime cooperation. The upcoming MILAN 2024 exercise, slated to take place in Visakhapatnam from February 19 to 27, will witness the participation of over 50 countries, showcasing India's commitment to ensuring safe maritime environments in collaboration with international partners.

Moreover, the Eastern Naval Command recently welcomed Corvette 20 of the Vietnam People's Navy and USS Halsey (DDG-97) of the United States Navy for the MILAN 2024 exercise, highlighting the increasing cooperation among nations in the Indo-Pacific region.

The MQ-9B Predator drone, a variant of the MQ-9 "Reaper" developed by General Atomics Aeronautical Systems (GA-ASI), is a high-altitude, long-endurance UAV designed for extended flight durations at altitudes exceeding 40,000 feet. With a maximum endurance of 40 hours, it serves as a reliable platform for prolonged surveillance missions.

Equipped with strike missiles, the MQ-9B Predator is capable of engaging and eliminating enemy targets with high precision, enhancing its effectiveness in various roles, including land and maritime surveillance, anti-submarine warfare, anti-surface warfare, electronic warfare, and expeditionary missions.

The MQ-9B drone has two variants - SkyGuardian and SeaGuardian, with the latter being operational in the Indian Navy since 2020. Its automatic take-off and landing capabilities, along with its ability to integrate into civil airspace, make it a versatile asset for joint forces and civil authorities, providing real-time situational awareness in the maritime domain.

The acquisition of 31 Predator drones by the Indian Navy signifies a significant advancement in enhancing India's maritime capabilities. This procurement, combined with the ongoing MILAN 2024 exercise, underscores India's dedication to promoting regional maritime security and cooperation.

MILAN 2024: Bringing Navies Together in Vizag for Groundbreaking Naval Exercise


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