India is planning to sign a major defense deal with the US to buy 30 armed drones worth $3 billion (approximately Rs 22,000 crore). The purchase is aimed at enhancing military capabilities. According to sources India will be acquiring 30 MQ-9 Reaper — 10 each for the three services.
The procurement is being done as India is sensing a war-like situation along two borders — Pakistan and China.
The approval for procuring the armed drones could be finalized during Defence Acquisition Council (DAC) meeting lead by Defence Minister Rajnath Singh.
US Defense secretary to visit India
In order to seal the deal US Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin is expected to visit India later in March. India is becoming a strategic defense partner for the US, especially countering Chinese influence in the Indian Ocean.
The MQ-9B Predator drones can carry a maximum payload of 2-tonne. The MQ-9B has an endurance of 48 hours and a range of over 6,000 nautical miles.
Last month, Indian Army Chief, General Manoj Mukund Naravane, highlighted the role of drones in military warfare.
Interacting during a webinar arranged by Centre for Land Warfare Studies (CLAWS) about multi-domain operations and the future of warfare, the Indian Army Chief had said that everyone has seen how the very imaginative and offensive use of drones in Idlib and then in Armenia-Azerbaijan, challenged the traditional prima donnas: the tanks, the artillery and the dug-in infantry.
He said that such a showcase of swarm drone offensive striking multiple targets during the Army Day Parade in January sent a strong message to India’s enemies.
“The Indian Army is steadily inducting niche capabilities to enhance our combat proficiencies in Multi-Domain Operations,” said Naravane.
Swarm drones are very effective in overwhelming and suppressing an enemy’s Air Defence Capability. They help in creating windows of opportunity for strike elements. “It is also no longer necessary to score a physical hit to destroy a target.
“Offensive capabilities in the digital domain can effectively neutralize satellites and networks, denying them at a critical juncture to decisively alter the course of the conflict,” he had stated.