In a move to strengthen its sea and land defences amid persisting tensions with neighbours China and Pakistan, India is planning to procure 30 weaponised MQ-9B Sky Guardian drones from the United States (US), reports Mint.
According to the report, the deal amounting to $3 billion to purchase the armed drones would be approved next month by India.
The MQ-9B drones are manufactured by defence-maker General Atomics and have a a 40-hour endurance with a maximum altitude of 40,000 feet. The drone can also carry a weapon payload of over 2.5 tonne including air-to-surface missiles and laser-guided bombs, according to the report.
The move holds significance for India as it looks to upgrade its existing Israeli Heron fleet and enhance its satellite communication capability and range. It would add to India’s military capabilities as the drones it has now can only be used for surveillance and reconnaissance.
It should be noted that in recent years US has emerged as one of the top strategic and defence partner of India. According to media reports, US Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin is expected to visit India this month. Additionally, US President Joe Biden along with Prime Ministers of Japan and Australia will join PM Modi for a virtual Quad meeting on 12 March.
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