- The big defence contract was announced during Prime Minister Narendra Modi's visit to the White House in 2017 during the previous Trump administration.
- The acquisition of 30 Predator/MQ9B aircraft is nearing completion in discussions between the Indian and US governments.
The Defence Ministry has constituted a committee under a three-star-rank official to deliberate on the reduced agreement for procuring predator drones from the US, amid Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s strong push for ‘Make in India’ in defence.
According to previous plans, India was to buy 30 of these high-altitude long-endurance drones with strike capability, including missiles, to be split equally among the three Predator/MQ9B acquisition program of 30 aircraft is at an advanced stage of discussion between the Indian and US governments..
“A committee headed by a Lieutenant General-rank officer from the Integrated Defence Staff headquarters has been formed to decide on the number of Predator drones the three services should buy to meet their requirements until indigenous development of similar equipment is possible,” government sources said.
Sources said the three services have requirements for these drones which can be used for surveillance as well as attacking enemy targets from standoff distances.
Almost all of the defence purchases scheduled through the import route had been abandoned or placed on hold by the Defence Ministry in favor of indigenous weapon systems, as directed by the Prime Minister’s Office.
India operates two predator drones that were leased from an American company and have been assisting the Navy in keeping track of operations in the Indian Ocean region.
The movement of Chinese research vessels and the Anti-piracy Escort Force is also continually observed by two drones leased from the Americans.
India has bought 12 American P-8I anti-submarine warfare and surveillance planes to keep a watch on the Indian Ocean region and was in the process of acquiring six more similar planes.
However, following the government’s directions on import programmes, the government would make a hasty decision on the project.
In accordance with the Prime Minister’s directives, the Indian Navy is now developing an indigenous roadmap for all of its weapon systems and equipment requirements.
PM Modi has been emphasising indigenisation, and he recently warned the military services and other stakeholders that only systems built in India can provide them with unique answers.
The big defence contract was announced during Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s visit to the White House in 2017 during the previous Trump administration.
Following that, the two countries boosted the number of such drones to be sold to India from 10 to 30 – 10 each for the navy, air force, and army.
General Atomics will produce these cutting-edge Predator drones, which currently have no competitors.