India requests buying MQ-9B combat drones from the US: Indian media
India formally requests 31 MQ-9B combat drones from the United States, with an emphasis on technology transfer, in a significant move to bolster its defense capabilities.
India has submitted a formal request for the acquisition of 31 MQ-9B combat drones from the United States, the Hindustan Times reported citing informed sources.
The United States is now expected to respond with a letter of acceptance, after which negotiations on pricing and terms for this substantial deal will ensue.
India hopes to negotiate a sizable component of technology transfer to the drone deal, which would be used to improve domestic production of drones, anonymous officials were cited as saying.
The decision to purchase General Atomics-manufactured MQ-9B drones was announced following Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi's visit to Washington in June.
Subsequently, the Indian Defense Acquisition Council confirmed that it would be 15 drones to the Navy and eight drones each to the Army and Air Force.
The estimated worth of the prospective contract, including maintenance costs, is approximately $3 billion.
The MQ-9B unmanned aerial vehicle offers a versatile range of capabilities, including the ability to carry both weapons and electronic systems for surveillance and reconnaissance. Moreover, the MQ-9B is compatible with the PS-I Poseidon patrol plane and the MH-60R helicopter, both of which India previously acquired from the United States. This compatibility enhances India's maritime surveillance capabilities for monitoring ships and submarines across the expansive Indian Ocean.
According to a Reuters report published back in July, India's arms purchases from the United States are more about establishing its own independent local military production than it is a move to decrease its reliance on Russian weapons and pivot toward the West.
New Delhi is currently the world's number one arms importer, but almost all of its major defense purchases are now conditioned to include joint manufacturing or technology transfer, regardless of which country India is buying from.
India has long been interested in acquiring the US' cutting-edge weapons and equipment, but Washington has been reluctant because of India's past and continued purchase of Russian weapons.