India begins process to purchase 31 MQ-9B drones

US will respond with a letter of acceptance after which India will begin negotiations with the country, duly factoring in the price and terms offered to other countries.
 MQ9B drone
MQ9B drone

New Delhi: The Government has begun the process to purchase hi-tech drones from the US. It issued a letter of request to Washington for 31 MQ-9B remotely piloted aircraft systems.

Sources told Defence Watch that US will respond with a letter of acceptance after which India will begin negotiations with the country, duly factoring in the price and terms offered to other countries.

They said the letter mentions the tri-services requirements, details of equipment and terms of the procurement.

The proposed deal found mention in the June 22 joint statement issued by the US and India during Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s first state visit to the US.

The drone deal will involve technology transfer and help bridge the technological gaps faced by the Defence Research and Development Organisation in developing such systems indigenously. The acquisition of the drones will be under the foreign military sales programme — Washington’s government-to-government method of selling US-built platforms.

India’s defence acquisitions council, the country’s apex weapons procurement body, accorded its acceptance of necessity on June 15 to buy the General Atomics high altitude long endurance drones. The Indian Navy will get 15 drones, and eight each will be allocated to the Indian Army and the Indian Air Force.

General Atomics has offered the drones to India for $ 3.07 billion, subject to negotiations. The estimated cost of the drones includes weapons, sensors, ground control stations, ground data terminals, ground handling equipment, spares and logistics support.

India will negotiate a higher element of technology transfer. It is looking at doubling the element of technology transfer that is currently on offer, from 8-9% to 15% to 20%. To be assembled in India, the versatile platform will have the capability to strike targets with its on-board weapons, it will be used for intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance (ISR); and its other roles include electronic warfare, defensive counter air and airborne early warning.

(Defence Watch– India’s Defence News centre that places the spotlight on Defence Manufacturing, Defence Technology, Strategy and Military affairs is on Twitter. Follow us here and stay updated.)

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