February 18, 2024
US Congress Deliberates Major Defense Sale to India
India World

Strengthening Defense Ties: US Congress Deliberates Major Defense Sale to India

Strengthening Defense Ties: US Congress Deliberates Major Defense Sale to India

Strengthening Defense Ties: US Congress Deliberates Major Defense Sale to India

In a significant development highlighting the deepening strategic partnership between the United States and India, the U.S. Congress is currently considering a substantial defense sale to India. This proposed deal encompasses advanced military equipment, including communications systems, Hellfire missiles, bombs, ground control stations, and other related assets. At the core of this potential agreement is the acquisition of a fleet of MQ-9A Reaper and MQ-9B drones from General Atomics Aeronautical Systems (GA-ASI).

India’s Strategic Drone Acquisition

India’s pursuit of the MQ-9 series drones began in 2016, with plans announced in 2020 to acquire 30 units. This procurement strategy aims for an equal distribution among the Indian Army, Indian Navy, and Indian Air Force, with each service set to receive 10 units. The acquisition of these state-of-the-art systems is poised to significantly enhance India’s military capabilities.

Deepening Defense Cooperation

The proposed defense sale underscores the ongoing collaboration between India and the United States in the defense sector. The U.S. State Department has expressed optimism about the potential drone deal, recognizing its role in advancing strategic technology cooperation and strengthening defense ties between the two nations. The announcement of the proposed sale occurred during Prime Minister Modi’s visit to the U.S. in June 2023, where President Biden welcomed India’s plans to procure Predator drones made by General Atomics.

Strategic Significance

The acquisition of these drones is strategically important for enhancing the surveillance capabilities of India’s armed forces, particularly along the Line of Actual Control with China. The U.S. Congress has already approved the sale of 31 MQ-9B HALE UAVs/drones to India, further solidifying the strategic partnership. This agreement also facilitates major repairs for American Navy ships at Indian shipyards, contributing to India’s national security and surveillance capabilities, extending from the Indian Ocean to areas near the India-China border.

Formalizing the Deal

With approval from both the U.S. Senate and House of Representatives, the sale of 31 Predator MQ-9B drones to India is set to enter formal negotiations between General Atomics and India’s Ministry of Defence. These discussions will cover crucial aspects such as pricing, configuration, local assembly, and technology transfer. The move is expected to elevate the Indian Navy’s capabilities, particularly in Intelligence, Surveillance, and Reconnaissance (ISR) operations. The recent operational success of two Predator drones on lease with the Indian Navy in monitoring pirate activities underscores the potential advantages of this strategic acquisition.

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