The Trump Administration has agreed to provide India armed Predator-B drones capable of destroying targets across borders, Hindustan Times reports, citing diplomatic officials of India and the United States.
According to the report, the US has informed the Modi government about its willingness to supply armed unmanned aerial vehicles to India and it is now up to New Delhi to take a call on the procurement of the weapon platform.
The matter was discussed during a meeting attended by National Security Advisor Ajit Doval, Foreign Secretary Vijay Gokhale and Defence Secretary in Washington last month, the report says. Predator-B drones, manufactured by General Atomics, can be armed with air-to-land missiles, anti-ship missiles and laser-guided bombs.
“Purchase of the Guardian drone through government to government route did not make sense as even if the unarmed drone identifies a hostile target over Indian Ocean, Bay of Bengal or Arabian Sea, it will have to request for Boeing P- 8I Neptune (aircraft) to destroy the target. The time lag and effort is not worth the while. The Indian need is an armed drone which not only locates but hunts down the target,” a senior government official was quoted by the daily as saying.
Earlier, the US had cleared the sale of 22 Guardian surveillance drones to India. These drones, meant for the Indian Navy, are not combat capable. Until now, has been hesitant to sell drones with lethal capabilities to other countries.
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