Indian Navy clears deal for 31 Predator Drones from US; contract to be signed in coming months

The Indian Navy has reached a significant milestone in enhancing its capabilities, as Chief Admiral R Hari Kumar announced the clearance of a crucial deal to procure 31 Predator drones from the United States (US).

The decision was made by the Defence Acquisition Council and sets the stage for the signing of the contract in the near future.

As of now, the letter of request has been cleared by the Defence Acquisition Council and has been submitted to the US government.

Notably, the acquisition of these drones is expected to significantly bolster India’s surveillance and reconnaissance capabilities, particularly in the maritime domain.

The contract, valued at around USD 4 billion, includes provisions for weapons and other equipment necessary for operational deployment.

The procurement process involves a lead time for manufacturing and delivery, with the first aircraft anticipated to be operational in approximately 36 months.

Admiral Kumar emphasized the importance of this acquisition for enhancing India’s national security interests, particularly in the maritime domain.

Noteworthy, the MQ-9B Predator drone, a variant of the MQ-9 “Reaper” developed by General Atomics Aeronautical Systems (GA-ASI), is a high-altitude, long-endurance UAV designed for extended flight durations at altitudes exceeding 40,000 feet.

With a maximum endurance of 40 hours, it provides a reliable platform for prolonged surveillance missions.

Equipped with strike missiles, the MQ-9B Predator is capable of engaging and eliminating enemy targets with high precision.

This capability enhances its effectiveness in various roles, including land and maritime surveillance, anti-submarine warfare, anti-surface warfare, electronic warfare, and expeditionary missions.

The MQ-9B drone has two variants – SkyGuardian and SeaGuardian, with the latter being in operation by the Indian Navy since 2020.

Its automatic take-off and landing capabilities, along with its ability to integrate into civil airspace, make it a versatile asset for joint forces and civil authorities, providing real-time situational awareness in the maritime domain.

The acquisition of 31 Predator drones by the Indian Navy marks a significant step forward in enhancing India’s maritime capabilities.