US State Department approves sale of 31 armed drones to India

File photo of the MQ-9B Sky Guardian drone

WASHINGTON, D.C. / NEW DELHI (TIP): The US State Department has approved the sale of 31 MQ-9B armed drones to India. These are to be made by General Atomics and are in use across several forces of the world.

The project includes ammunition, surveillance, repairs and spare engines, and will cost an estimated $3.99 billion (around Rs 32,000 crore).

The Defiance Security Cooperation Agency (DSCA) delivered the required certification notifying US Congress of this possible sale on February 1, the DSCA said.

These will be through the Foreign Military Sale to the Government of India.

As per the US process, the Congress will recommend the sale to US President for final ratification.

India had requested to buy thirty-one MQ-9B Sky Guardian aircraft. The payload sought by India are a mix and match of offensive equipment and surveillance. The long-range UAV can stay up in the air for 36 hours while tracking any threat.

The DSCA said it has delivered the certification that includes 170 of the AGM-114R hellfire missiles; sixteen M36E9 hellfire captive air training missiles; 310 laser small diameter bombs; and eight laser guided test vehicles with live fuses.

For surveillance India has sought 161 embedded global positioning and inertial navigation systems; 35 rio grande communications intelligence sensor suites.

India is also looking getting spare engines; hellfire missile launchers; cryptographic appliques and other identification friend or foe (IFF) equipment

Active Electronically Scanned Array (AESA) surveillance radars will be on board.

The General Atomics will also work on repair, consumables, accessories, and repair and return support; secure communications, precision navigation, and cryptographic equipment.

“This proposed sale will support the foreign policy and national security objectives of the United States by helping to strengthen the US-Indian strategic relationship and to improve the security of a major defense partner,” the DSCA said.

India is seen as important force for political stability, peace, and economic progress in the Indo-Pacific and South Asia region.The proposed sale will improve India’s capability to meet current and future threats by enabling unmanned surveillance and reconnaissance patrols in sea lanes of operation.

An offset agreement will be defined in negotiations between the purchaser and the contractor. Implementation of this proposed sale will not require the assignment of any additional US Government or contractor representatives to India.
(With input from agencies)

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