Exclusive: US Congress green signals Predator drone sale to India | Latest News India - Hindustan Times

Exclusive: US Congress green signals Predator drone sale to India

Feb 01, 2024 10:16 AM IST

The US State Department is expected to notify the sale of 31 Predator armed drones to India in the next 24 hours.

New Delhi: The US State Department has informed Predator Drone manufacturer General Atomics that the US Congress today has cleared the ‘tiered review’ of the 31 MQ9B drone sale to India and official Congressional notification will be submitted within 24 hours. The drone maker has also informed the same to the highest levels of the Modi government including the national security establishment.

MQ-9B Predator manufactured by General Atomics
MQ-9B Predator manufactured by General Atomics

While the Narendra Modi government is tight-lipped about the entire deal, sources in Washington have confirmed that the notification for the sale of 31 MQ(B Predator armed drones to India will be issued later in the day. While the Indian Navy will get 15 out of the 31 drones, the Indian Army and the Indian Air Force will get eight each of high altitude long endurance drones from the US.

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US State Department spokesperson Mathew Miller went on record stating : “ Generally, the US-India Defence Partnership has seen significant growth over the past decade. The drone deal is a proposed sale that was announced during Prime Minister Modi’s visit last year. We believe it offers significant potential to further advance strategic technology cooperation with India and military cooperation in the region. Congress plays an important role in the US arms transfer process. We routinely consult with the members of Congress on the Foreigb Affairs Committees before our formal notification, so we can address questions that they might have…..”’

It is understood that even the GE-414 engine deal with the US is well on track with the CEO of the company informing the apex levels of the Modi government. Both the drone and the aircraft engine deals are being handled by the two national security advisors of India and US.

The Indian Navy already operates two unarmed Predator drones from Rajali air base in Tamil Nadu, which are on lease from the US. The two drones have taken Indian maritime domain awareness to a different level as the Indian Navy battles both the Houthi missiles and Somali Pirates in the Red Sea.

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    Author of Indian Mujahideen: The Enemy Within (2011, Hachette) and Himalayan Face-off: Chinese Assertion and Indian Riposte (2014, Hachette). Awarded K Subrahmanyam Prize for Strategic Studies in 2015 by Manohar Parrikar Institute for Defence Studies and Analyses (MP-IDSA) and the 2011 Ben Gurion Prize by Israel.

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