Sea Guardian Drones from US | 26 Nov 2020

Why in News

Recently, two American MQ9B Sea Guardian unarmed drones have been inducted by the Indian Navy.

  • The drones would be on lease with India for one year.

Key Points

  • MQ9B Sea Guardian:
    • It is the maritime variant of the Predator MQ9 Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV).
    • It has a maximum endurance of 40 hours and a maximum flying altitude of 40,000 feet.
    • It has a 3600 maritime surveillance radar and an optional multimode maritime surface search radar.
    • It can be used in operations such as Anti-Surface Warfare, Anti-Submarine Warfare, Humanitarian Assistance/Disaster Relief, Search and Rescue, Law Enforcement (Drug Trafficking, Illegal Immigration and Piracy), etc.
  • Procurement:
    • The Navy has for the first time inducted two surveillance drones through a lease agreement with an American firm, using the emergency powers granted by the Centre to the Armed forces amid the China standoff.
      • Under the emergency power, the government has granted emergency funds up to Rs. 500 crore per procurement project to the three armed services to buy ammunition and weapons in view of the escalating border standoff with China.
    • Drones were procured under the option for leasing military platforms introduced in the Defence Acquisition Procedure (DAP) 2020.
  • Significance:
    • The drones are meant for carrying out surveillance in the Indian Ocean Region and can be deployed on the China border if asked for and if needed.
      • Already the Navy's P8I Poseidon aircraft have been deployed in Ladakh.
      • The P-8I aircraft is a variant of the P-8A Poseidon aircraft that have been developed by Boeing company.
      • Boeing’s P-8A Poseidon is designed for long-range Anti-Submarine warfare (ASW), Anti-Surface Warfare (ASuW), and intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance (ISR) missions.
    • As part of its force restructuring to offset budgetary constraints, the Navy is looking to induce more unmanned solutions in future.
    • Till the time the government approves buying the drones, which has to get the Defence Acquisition Council's nod, leasing is a more economic and viable option.
      • The Defence Acquisition Council is the highest decision-making body in the Defence Ministry for deciding on new policies and capital acquisitions for the three services (Army, Navy and Air Force) and the Indian Coast Guard.