On November 22, 2022, the Indian Navy reached a milestone with its leased General Atomics MQ-9A unmanned aerial vehicle.
The aircraft completed its 10,000th flight hour, General Automics has said, adding that the milestone was reached by two MQ-9As operated by the Indian Navy over a period of almost exactly two years, with the first flight taking place on November 21, 2020.
“The Indian Armed Forces have been impressed by the MQ-9A’s over-the-horizon ISR support for surface units and Indian warships, as well as the exceptional endurance and operational availability of the platform,” said General Atomics Aeronautical Systems CEO Linden Blue.
“Our MQ-9As have helped the Indian Navy to cover over 14 million square miles of operating area," he added.
General Atomics provided the MQ-9As to India under a Company-Owned, Company-Operated (COCO) lease agreement and operates the aircraft on behalf of the Indian Navy.
Several countries, including the United States, the United Kingdom, France, Italy, the Netherlands, and Spain use MQ-9As. The newer MQ-9B variant has been purchased by the UK and has orders from Belgium. The MQ-9B maritime surveillance configuration (SeaGuardian) has recently been deployed by the Japan Coast Guard.
The MQ-9A is a turboprop-powered, multi-mission RPA developed and first flown by GA-ASI in 2001. It offers unmatched operational flexibility with a 27-hour endurance, speeds of 240 KTAS, and the ability to operate at altitudes up to 50,000 feet. It also has a payload capacity of 3,850 pounds, including 3,000 pounds of external stores.
The aircraft carries 500 per cent more payload and has nine times the horsepower of its predecessor, providing a long-endurance, persistent surveillance and strike capability for military operations.
India received the aircraft at the peak of the standoff with China along the Line of Actula Control in eastern Ladakh. The aircraft have been used to monitor Chinese deployments in the Indian Ocean region.
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