India is in talks with the US for possible procurement of about 100 latest drones – both armed and surveillance versions – worth USD 2 billion to bolster its arsenal keeping China and Pakistan in mind.
The issue is likely to figure in the talks between the two sides as US Defence Secretary Ashton Carter visits India next week.
Ahead of his visit, Carter this week said the US is keen to forge a “closer and stronger” military relationship with India and “a whole bunch of things” will be announced during his India trip to boost Indo-US strategic ties.
Industry sources familiar with India’s interest and ongoing talks between the two governments, said India had requested for the latest Avenger drones, an unmanned combat air vehicle, and is mainly being sought with an eye on China.
It has also sought Predator XP category which is a surveillance version for internal security issues and terrorist threats.
According to industry sources, India is looking for about 100 drones worth USD 2 billion.
“Yes, General Atomics Aeronautical Systems Inc (GA-ASI) is aware of India’s interest in Predator-series Remotely Piloted Aircraft (RPA),” Vivek Lall, chief executive of the US and International Strategic Development of General Atomics, had said.
General Atomics Aeronautical Systems produces Predator series of remotely piloted aircraft.
Due to American export laws, the US government has to approve the export of a Predator-series RPA to India.
Predator-series RPA could provide a world-class Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance (ISR) capability for India which would include both high-definition radar and Electro-optical/Infrared (EO/IR) coverage along India’s borders.
Additionally, the RPA can perform humanitarian aid/disaster relief surveillance over both land and sea.