India is finally acquiring 31 MQ9B Predator drones from the US based General Atomics Aeronautical Systems, Inc., (GA-ASI) through government to government and Foreign Military Sales route at an estimated cost of approximate US$ 3 billion. This is one of the biggest outcomes of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s visit to the US.

According to the joint statement issued at the end of Prime Minister Narendra Modi and President Joe Biden‘s talks in Washington DC, the two leaders welcomed India’s plans to procure General Atomics MQ-9B HALE UAVs. These world class drones are going to be assembled in India and will further enhance the ISR capabilities of India’s armed forces across domains. 

Financial Express Online has reported recently that the US company General Atomics  in an effort to support India’s long term goals to boost indigenous defence capabilities will also establish a Comprehensive Global MRO facility in the country.

The deal was approved by the Defence Acquisition Council (DAC) earlier this month headed by the defence minister Rajnath Singh.

Steps to be taken before the contract is signed

Though the deal for 31 Predator drones is almost expected to be US$ 3 billion, there is still a long way to go before the contract is inked.

According to experts, a Letter of Request (LOR) from the Indian Government has to be sent to the US Government expressing its interest to buy the Predator drones through the FMS route from General Atomics.

Once the LOR is received then a Letter of Acceptance (LOA) from the US Government will be sent to the Indian Government.

Thereafter there will be a series of discussions between the Ministry of Defence and Ministry of Finance as the deal is more than Rs 3000 crore.

Finally, it will go to the Cabinet Committee on Security (CCS) for approval.

Then the two sides will sign a contract which will lay down the cost, delivery time line and other terms and conditions.

Financial Express Online has reported earlier that the Indian Navy is the lead service in this deal and it will get 15 drones for carrying out surveillance operations within its designated area of responsibility and the other two service Army & Air Force will get eight each.

It has been reported earlier that the Air Force and the Army are also looking for drones which can fly at medium altitudes and have long endurance from the domestic companies.

Why Predators?

Financial Express Online has reported previously that these drones have been identified by a special group of experts who went on a global mission to find the best drone based on the specifications spelt out by the Indian Navy.

And once they are inducted in the services will help to enhance India’s offensive capabilities.

Ahead of this huge announcement in the US, General Atomics Aeronautical Systems, Inc., (GA-ASI) has announced its partnerships with Indian companies including Bharat Forge which will produce sub-assemblies and assemblies for remotely piloted aircraft and landing gear components, for the Predator drones specifically.

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