The proposed deal is for 30 MQ-9 Reaper drones worth $3 billion (around Rs 24,500 crore)—10 each for the Army, Navy and Air Force. While the deal is under process, General Atomics Aeronautical Systems, which manufactures these drones, has tied up with Bharat Forge to produce landing gear components.
India wants to purchase a fleet of Predator armed drones from the US to expand its surveillance capabilities along the Himalayan frontier with China. In addition, a $3 billion (about Rs 24,500 crore) contract to purchase 30 MQ-9 Reaper drones, 10 for each of the Army, Navy, and Air Force, is being discussed. To align the operational and procurement needs of the Indian armed services, this will be the first tri-service acquisition.
Military strategists predict India’s offensive capability will improve with the Predator armed drones. General Atomics Aeronautical Systems, which makes these drones, has partnered with Bharat Forge to create landing gear components, sub-assemblies, and assemblies for remotely piloted aircraft. At the same time, the agreement is being processed (read Predator drones).
The US company is convinced that the partnership will lead to significant capability-building for both parties and provide the Indian unmanned aircraft market with a boost.
General Atomics Global Corporation CEO Dr Vivek Lall expressed his company’s eagerness to collaborate with Bharat Forge in the crucial field of aerostructure manufacture. The next generation of the most technologically advanced uncrewed aerial vehicle will be built in collaboration with Bharat Forge, whose competence is well-known worldwide and whose significant contributions to the aerospace industry have motivated us to do so, according to Lall.
US Predator Armed Drones
Admiral R. Hari Kumar, the head of the Navy, reportedly stated that a case was being made to purchase Predator drones. However, Kumar said, “We are debating whether the figures need to be rationalised.
In the meantime, Tapas, an indigenous uncrewed aerial vehicle (UAV) from India, is nearing completion. The Defence Research and Development Organization’s Aeronautical Development Establishment, with offices in Bengaluru, is creating the medium-altitude, long-endurance UAV (DRDO).
2020 saw the Indian Navy lease two MQ-9B Sea Guardian drones from General Atomics for monitoring during border tensions with China in eastern Ladakh. The two drones have flown for the Navy for more than 10,000 hours, covering an area of more than 14 million square miles.
India has used drones for intelligence gathering, surveillance, and reconnaissance missions over the Arabian Sea, the Bay of Bengal, the Andaman and Nicobar Islands, the Line of Actual Control (LAC), and locations near the Maldivian waters.
India was able to purchase Predator-B armed drones thanks to the support of the Donald Trump-led US administration in 2019. If approved, India will receive a weapon from Washington as the first nation outside the NATO alliance.
The Predator drone’s strike capabilities are well recognised. Qasem Soleimani, a senior Iranian general, was assassinated in Baghdad by an American Predator drone strike in January 2020. The strong Quds Force of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps was under his command.
The MQ-9B drone has a 6,000 nautical mile range and can transport payloads weighing roughly 1,700 lb. In addition to air-to-ground missiles, it can also carry sensors and laser-guided bombs with a maximum load of two tonnes.
Armed drone capacity, according to Indian military planners, will enable the Indian forces to conduct remote-controlled operations, carry out surgical attacks on terrorist hideouts in Pakistan-occupied Kashmir, and engage targets along China’s Himalayan frontiers. The Indian military exclusively uses drones from Israel as of right now for surveillance and scouting operations.
In August 1997, the Predator system went into production after making its first flight in 1994. The RQ-1 was made for missions involving surveillance and reconnaissance. In 2002, the name was changed to MQ-1. The MQ-1 is a multi-role vehicle used for armed reconnaissance and interdiction and is armed with AGM-114 Hellfire missiles.
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