In a military negotiation which was earlier put on hold, India is now said to be in advanced stages of the same discussion over the procurement of 30 MQ-9B Predator armed drones at a cost of over USD 3 billion to crank up its overall surveillance apparatus along the Line of Actual Control (LAC) with China and in the Indian Ocean.
Verifiable sources from the defence establishment have said that talks between New Delhi and Washington are underway for the government-to-government procurement of the drones manufactured by US defence major General Atomics, and rubbished reports stating they were off the table.
We understand that the MQ-9B acquisition programme is at an advanced stage of discussion between the US and Indian governments. Any questions on those discussions should be addressed specifically to the respective governments. From a company perspective, General Atomics is ready to support India and values our long-time relationshipDr Vivek Lall, the Chief Executive for the General Atomics Global Corporation
The General Atomics MQ-9 Predator
Developed by General Atomics Aeronautical Systems (GA-ASI) primarily for the United States Air Force (USAF), the General Atomics MQ-9 Reaper (also called the Predator B) is an unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) capable of remotely controlled or autonomous flight operations.
The MQ-9 and other UAVs are referred to as Remotely Piloted Vehicles/Aircraft (RPV/RPA) by the USAF to indicate their human ground controllers and are the first hunter-killer UAV designed for long-endurance, high-altitude surveillance.
The MQ-9 is a larger, heavier, and more capable aircraft than the earlier General Atomics MQ-1 Predator and can be controlled by the same ground systems used to control MQ-1s.
The Reaper is designed to carry 15 times more ordnance payload and cruise at about three times the speed of the MQ-1. The aircraft is monitored and controlled by aircrew in the Ground Control Station (GCS), including weapons employment.
The Predator and Reaper were designed for military operations and not intended to operate among crowded airline traffic. The aircraft typically lack systems capable of complying with FAA See-And-Avoid regulations.
|Length||6 ft 1 in|
|Wingspan||65 ft 7 in|
|Height||12 ft 6 in|
|Max takeoff weight||10,494 lb|
|Cruise speed||194 mph|
|Endurance||14 hours fully loaded|
|Operational altitude||25,000 ft|
Our Indian customer has been impressed by the MQ-9’s over-the-horizon ISR- intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance, support for surface units and Indian warships, as well as the exceptional endurance and operational availability of the platformLall said
According to General Motors, the MQ-9Bs are designed to not only meet the standards of NATO but also to comply with civil airspace requirements in the US and around the world.
Reportedly. the procurement proposal has been moved by the Indian Navy and all three services are likely to get 10 drones each.
COVER: General Atomics Aeronautical Systems