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India to Finalize MQ-9 B Predator Drone Acquisition

The Indian government will wrap up the country’s acquisition of 30 US-made MQ-9 B Predator armed drones next week, Indian news outlet The Week has revealed.

The final discussion will occur by phone at a scheduled meeting of the Defence Acquisition Council. 

The outlet revealed that the Indian Navy was initially “not keen” on the $3 billion acquisition. However, “now all issues have been resolved.”

10 Drones for Each Service

Bloomberg first revealed India’s plan to acquire the General Atomics drones in March. The outlet cited an unnamed official as saying that the plan would be approved in April.

According to the plan, each of the three service branches — the army, navy, and air force — will receive 10 drones.

Recent Leased Acquisitions

The military is reportedly satisfied with the performance of two unarmed Sea Guardian — the naval version of the Reaper — drones leased from the US for 12 months last year.

The deal was signed in November under the government’s emergency procurement measure amidst the border standoff with China.

A few months afterward, India signed another lease with Israel to acquire four of its latest Heron surveillance drones for three years.

First Foreign Armed Drone Deal

The Predator deal, first approved by the Trump administration in 2019, will be India’s first armed drone acquisition from abroad.

India will receive an autonomous armed platform able to fly at an altitude of 40,000 feet (12,192 meters) for up to 40 hours if the deal goes through.

The aircraft can carry various payloads, including laser-guided bombs and air-to-ground missiles, of up to 2,177 kilograms (4,800 pounds).

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