India has called off a $3 billion agreement with American aerospace firm General Atomics to acquire 30 long-endurance Predator drones, The Hindustan Times reported, citing a top government official.
The decision was reportedly triggered by the Predator’s “prohibitive cost” and the country’s move to prioritize indigenous production of unmanned systems under the “Make in India” program.
“As of now, the Predator deal is off,” the official told the Indian English-language newspaper, adding that the US has already been informed of the decision.
In November 2021, India was reportedly set to finalize a proposal to procure 30 multi-mission armed Predator drones under a multibillion-dollar tri-services contract.
The Indian Navy already has two surveillance Predators on lease from General Atomics being used for reconnaissance on the country’s maritime and land borders with Pakistan and China.
Despite its urgent desire to purchase more drones, India’s plan to acquire the Predators ran into delays due to cost and the length of the production process.
New Delhi requested additional details concerning the price and maintenance facilities to be built in India.
“Due to the high procurement cost…the defense ministry wants better insight into the deal under the FMS (foreign military sale), which is slightly opaque,” a source told The Times of India last year.