India, US likely to finalise MQ-9B drone deal by early 2024

India is looking at signing the deal to procure 31 MQ-9B drones from the US under a government-to-government framework by March 2023 with the US Congress expected to clear the supplies in the next few weeks.

Reportedly, the Indian and United States (US) Government officials will hold the final series of negotiations on the procurement after the latter responds to India’s Letter of Request (LoR) for the acquisition of these armed drones from US defence major General Atomics.

To be noted that India will most likely will be procuring around 31 UAVs which includes around 15 for the Indian Navy and eight each for the Indian Army and the Indian Air Force (IAF).

Further, out of the 31 to be procured, 15 (fifteen) of these drones would be used for surveillance in the maritime zone while the remaining 16 (sixteen) would be used for aerial and ground surveillance along the northern and northeastern sectors, according to a statement given by the Indian Navy chief Admiral R Hari Kumar in May 2023.

The total cost of the deal is estimated to be around $3 billion. This will also include Maintenance, Overhaul and Repair (MRO) of the UAVs.

As of now, the deal has been approved by the Defence Acquisition Council in May 2023.


About MQ-9B SeaGuardian

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.

Further, 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.

Also, 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)


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: