India set to acquire 30 MQ-9 Reaper or Predator-B HALE UAV from US worths $3 billion

India armed forces could soon get access to the lethal drones from the US. Final preparations are underway to ink another $3 billion deal between US-based General Atomics and the Indian Government for the procurement of  30 UAV’s (drones) for the Indian tri-services.

The successful deal approved by US President Donald Trump’s administration shall arm the tri-services with 10+10+10 MQ-9 Reaper or Predator-B High Altitude Long Endurance (HALE) drone.  The drones will be delivered inclusive of weaponry package custom made to suit specifications for the Indian Army and the Indian Air Force.

As per Financial Express Online, all drones shall be configured to accommodate specific payloads different for each of the service-branch. According to the source, “The Acceptance Of Necessity (AON) will be issued soon. However, depending on the follow-up and completion of all procedures in a time-bound manner.”

These drones shall boost the Indian Navy’s monitoring capabilities in the Indian Ocean and further enhance surveillance capabilities along the coast-line. The Indian Navy uses the P-8i for carrying out anti-submarine warfare.

The purchase of the drones shall happen through the Foreign Military Sales route and agreement between the Government of India and General Atomics (US). The drones shall sync easily with P-8is in the Indian Navy, given the mutual origins of both the weapon systems.

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Since in 2018, the two governments had inked the Communications Compatibility and Security Agreement (COMCASA). The American platforms in the Indian armed forces will get encrypted systems, leading to enhanced capabilities.

The price-tag for these sophisticated but lethal drones stands $200 million (each drone fully armed with sensors), making it more expensive than a fighter plane. As per earlier reports, the naval version of Predator-B drones (General Atomics) can carry an external payload of 2.1 tonnes (maximum). It can soar up to 40,000 feet and stay in the air for 35 hours.

The Reaper drone is a “UAV capable of remotely controlled or autonomous flight operations.” It is designed as an “armed, multi-mission, medium-altitude, long-endurance” aircraft primarily designed for offensive strikes.

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