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US Approves $4B Sale of MQ-9B Drones, Hellfire Missiles to India

The US State Department has approved a potential sale of 31 MQ-9B Sky Guardian drones to India.

The estimated $3.99 billion sale includes 170 AGM-114R Hellfire missiles, 310 GBU-39B/B laser small diameter bombs, and 161 embedded global positioning & inertial navigation systems.

The Indian Navy is expected to field 15 of the drones, while the Army and Air Force will receive eight each.

“The proposed sale will improve India’s capability to meet current and future threats by enabling unmanned surveillance and reconnaissance patrols in sea lanes of operation,” the Defense Security Cooperation Agency stated in a press release.

“India has demonstrated a commitment to modernizing its military and will have no difficulty absorbing these articles and services into its armed forces.”

Alleged Murder Plot

The Indian government approved the procurement in June 2023 for maritime surveillance and monitoring the country’s borders with China and Pakistan.

The approval came amid media reports that Washington withheld the deal to make India probe an attempted assassination plot of a US citizen.

An Indian security official is alleged to have conspired to kill New York-based Gurpatwant Singh Pannun, The Wire wrote citing a US federal indictment.

India accuses Khalistani separatist Pannun of being involved in terrorism. 

Indian Indicted for Murder

An Indian citizen, Nikhil Gupta, has formally been charged for the conspiracy and is currently in detention in the Czech Republic pending his extradition.

Gupta allegedly paid $100,000 to an FBI agent posing as a hitman to kill Pannun in New York.

He has been charged with murder-for-hire and conspiracy to commit muder-for-hire, which both carry up to 10 years of prison sentence.

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