India, US Keen To Fast Track $3 Billion Predator Drone Deal: Report
India and the US are keen to reach an agreement soon to purchase 30 MQ-9B predatory armed drones at a cost of more than $3 billion, helping New Delhi strengthen its overall surveillance apparatus along the Line of Control. reality (LAC) and the Indian Ocean.
Officials familiar with the development said Wednesday that, in the works for more than five years, “the ball is now in India’s yard” without further explanation.
The MQ-9B predatory armed drone – 10 for three missions – is seen as a vital part of India’s defense and security needs.
Officials did not elaborate further but ruled out any bureaucratic hurdles or legal issues involved.
“I have to pull back and check that,” Assistant Secretary of State for Political Military Affairs Jessica Lewis told reporters here when asked about the delay in the deal, which was announced this season. summer 2017.
It has been pending for quite some time now, for reasons unknown to the general public. However, the issues are said to have been discussed during meetings between National Security Adviser Ajit K Doval and senior US leadership, including his counterpart Jake Sullivan.
During the meetings, it is believed that both sides expressed eagerness to see that the deal on drones proceed quickly. India is eager that an early decision will enable it to receive the MQ-98 predatory armed drones for strengthening national security and surveillance not only in the Indian Ocean but also along the LAC. .
According to people familiar with the development, the Biden administration is keen to seal the deal as soon as possible, which will create jobs and be politically beneficial ahead of next year’s presidential election.
“The MQ-9B will enable Indian military users to fly farther than any other aircraft in this category, spend more time in the air and perform a wider variety of missions than any other aircraft. SkyGuardian and SeaGuardian can provide full motion video in virtually any condition, day or night, as well as other types of detailed sensors with their onboard systems,” said Vivek. Lall, chief executive officer, General Atomics Global Corporation, told PTI.
“Aircraft can also carry a variety of specialized payloads if they have to adapt to a specific mission. For example, SkyGuardian becomes SeaGuardian when it carries a 360-degree maritime search radar that is available to the user. perceived quality in the maritime domain that they cannot achieve any other way,” he said.
Lall says artificial intelligence, machine learning and other sophisticated technologies help harness the rich insights from these planes, analyze and distribute it to those who need it to make decisions. fast.
“Other payloads include communication relays – so aircraft can act as nodes connecting forces on land or at sea – or other intelligence, surveillance or military systems. This aircraft can conduct search and rescue, help fight wildfires, support customs, strengthen the navy and take on many other tasks,” he said.
“In short, the MQ-9B is the world’s leading multi-role, long-lasting remote control aircraft today. It is in high demand. Japan, Belgium, UK and several other countries are flying. or on the way to start flying them,” Lall said.
Earlier in the day, Assistant Secretary of State for Political Military Affairs Lewis told reporters that defense ties between India and the United States had accelerated.
“When we look at the relationship with India and our security cooperation with India and the defense relationship with India over the last 10 years or even a little longer, we really see that that has grown, grown and changed… in a very positive way,” Lewis said in response to a question.
“I think all the discussions (in this week’s iCET dialogue) are in that context,” she said, a day after the two countries embarked on an ambitious initiative on technologies. important and emerging.
“Everything from India’s procurement and or review of US systems and India’s competition, when they are competing for specific systems, to the cross-cutting relationship between the national our department, the Department of Defense. So we see this as a place where we want to continue to work closely together,” she said.
“Without going into any of the details of the conversation, I think it’s a very rich conversation right now. And a conversation that we’re deeply committed to not only continues, but grows. ,” Lewis said.
In response to a question, a State Department official said the United States is ready to help India diversify its defense needs.
“When it comes to India, I think there are a lot of options. Obviously, we need to discuss with the Indian government, see what the needs are. But I think there are a lot of options for us to find. see complementary systems, ways to cooperate. Obviously respecting India’s own rules of the game for how it works. There’s so much more that we can do together and hope. we can continue to work on that,” Lewis said.
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