India Approves Acquisition of MQ-9B Armed Drones from the US
- 17 Jun 2023
- 3 min read
Why in News?
Recently, India's Ministry of Defence has granted approval for the procurement of 31 MQ-9B armed drones from the United States. The deal, worth a little over $3 billion, is expected to be announced during Prime Minister Narendra Modi's state visit to Washington.
- The acquisition of these advanced drones aims to enhance India's surveillance capabilities and strengthen its armed forces.
What are MQ-9B Armed Drones?
- The MQ-9B drone is a variant of the MQ-9 "Reaper" which was used to launch a modified version of the Hellfire missile that eliminated al-Qaeda leader Ayman al-Zawahiri in Kabul.
- The MQ-9B has two variants SkyGuardian and its sibling SeaGuardian. The Indian Navy has been operating the MQ-9B Sea Guardian since 2020.
- The drone can operate at over 40,000 feet, giving the Indian military surveillance capacity in the high-altitude Himalayan border areas.
- The Predator also has the maximum endurance of 40 hours, making it useful for long-hour surveillance.
- MQ-9B drones are equipped with advanced features such as automatic take-off and landing, detect and avoid system, anti-spoofing GPS, and encrypted communication links.
- Need For India:
- India needs MQ-9B armed drones to enhance its surveillance and strike capabilities across its land and maritime borders, especially in the context of the ongoing standoff with China in Ladakh and the rising tensions with Pakistan.
- India also needs MQ-9B armed drones to counter the growing presence of Chinese submarines and warships in the Indian Ocean Region, and to protect its vital sea lanes of communication and trade.
- India also needs MQ-9B armed drones to support its counter-terrorism and counter-insurgency operations in Kashmir and other regions.
- Benefits of Acquiring MQ-9B Armed Drones to India:
- Acquiring MQ-9B armed drones will provide India with a strategic edge over its adversaries, as it will be able to conduct long-range surveillance and precision strikes without risking its manned aircraft or pilots.
- Acquiring MQ-9B armed drones will also boost India's defence cooperation with the US, which has emerged as a key partner for India in the Indo-Pacific region.
- The deal will also strengthen India's role in the Quad grouping of democracies along with the US, Japan and Australia.
- Acquiring MQ-9B armed drones will also create opportunities for India's defence industry, as it will involve technology transfer and joint production under the Make in India initiative.