Indian Navy plans to extend the lease of MQ-9B SeaGuardian drones

The Indian Navy (IN) plans to extend the lease of the two MQ-9B SeaGuardian drones which the force inducted in November 2020 as the current contract is set to expire by the end of this year.

These older versions of the Predators were acquired from United States (US) based General Atomics on lease along with the necessary ground control stations and equipment for intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance (ISR) in maritime areas.

Initially inducted under emergency powers by India in November 2020 during the military standoff with China, these UAVs / drones have accumulated over 12,000 flight hours, and have been used extensively by the IN.

Also, the three Indian Armed Forces have decided to procure around 31 Predator MQ-9B drones. Out of these, around 15 for the Indian Navy and eight each for the Indian Army and the Indian Air Force (IAF).

The total cost of the deal is estimated to be around $3 billion.

The deal was announced during Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s visit to the US last month and as of now have already been approved by the Defence Acquisition Council (DAC).

Indian and US will now undertake negotiations to finalize the actual acquisition cost and other contractual requirements.

About MQ-9B SeaGuardian 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.

The drone 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.

Further, 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