Acquisition of MQ-9B drones: Update by Defence Ministry

The Defence Acquisition Council (DAC), on June 15, 2023, accorded the Acceptance of Necessity (AoN) for acquisition of 31 MQ-9B drones (16 Sky Guardian and 15 Sea Guardian) High Altitude Long Endurance (HALE) Remotely Piloted Aircraft Systems (RPAS) for Tri-Services from the USA through Foreign Military Sale (FMS) route.

The Acceptance of Necessity (AoN) included the number of UAVs to be procured along with associated equipment.

Further, the AoN noted the estimated cost of 3,072 million US dollars provided by the US Government. However, price will be negotiated once policy approval of the US Government is received.

The Ministry of Defence (MoD) will compare the acquisition cost with the best price offered by General Atomics (GA) to other countries. The procurement is in progress and would be completed as per the laid down procedure.

Under the FMS route, a Letter of Request (LOR) would be sent to the US Government where Tri-services requirements, details of equipment and terms of the procurement would be included.

Based on LOR, the US Government and MoD will finalise the Letter of Offer and Acceptance (LOA) where details of equipment and terms of the procurement would be negotiated and finalised in accordance with the FMS program and the price and terms offered by the US Government and GA to other countries.

Meanwhile, some speculative reports emerged in sections of social media referring to the price and other terms of purchase. These are uncalled for, have ulterior motives and aimed at derailing the due acquisition process. Price and other terms & conditions of the purchase are yet to be finalised and subject to negotiations. In this regard, all are requested not to spread fake news/misinformation which can have serious impact on the morale of the Armed Forces and adversely impact the acquisition process.


About MQ-9B Drones

MQ-9B SeaGuardian is the maritime-focused sibling of the revolutionary SkyGuardian remotely piloted aircraft system (RPAS) that has been missionized using “bolt-on/bolt-off” maritime sensors.

SeaGuardian is designed to fly over the horizon via satellite for over 30 hours (depending on configuration) in all types of weather and safely integrate into civil airspace, enabling joint forces and civil authorities to deliver real-time situational awareness anywhere in the maritime domain—day or night.

This highly versatile maritime patrol and reconnaissance aircraft can seamlessly integrate a centerline wide-area maritime radar, an automatic identification system, electronic support measures, and a self-contained anti-submarine warfare (ASW) mission kit.

SeaGuardian not only integrates the most advanced maritime intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance (ISR) capabilities, but it is also the first RPAS in its class to enable real-time search and patrol above and below the ocean’s surface.

SeaGuardian can be configured to conduct a number of maritime ISR operations, including but not limited to:

  • Humanitarian Assistance/Disaster Relief
  • Search and Rescue
  • Law Enforcement
  • Anti-Surface Warfare
  • Anti-Submarine Warfare
  • Airborne Mine Counter Measures
  • Long-Range Strategic ISR
  • Over-the-Horizon Targeting


Wing Span: 66 ft (20m)

Length: 36 ft (11m)

Powerplant: Honeywell TPE331-10

Max Gross Takeoff Weight: 10,500 lb (4763 kg)

Fuel Capacity: 3,900 lb (1769 kg)

Payload Capacity: 850 lb int. (386 kg)

3,000 lb ext. (1361 kg)

Payloads: MTS-B EO/IR

Lynx Multi-mode Radar

Multi-mode maritime radar

Automated Identification System (AIS)


Communications relay

Power: 11.0 kW/45.0 kVA (Block 5) (redundant)

Max Altitude: 50,000 ft (15240m)

Max Endurance: 27 hr

Max Air Speed: 240 KTAS


  • Triple-redundant flight control system
  • Redundant flight control surfaces
  • Remotely piloted or fully autonomous
  • MIL-STD-1760 stores management system
  • C-Band line-of-sight data link control
  • Ku-Band beyond line-of-sight/SATCOM data link control
  • Over 90% system operational availability
  • C-130 transportable (or self-deploys)

Source for About SeaGaurdian and Image Courtesy:

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