The $4 Billion MQ-9B Drone Sale to India Approved by US
On February 1st, the US state department approved a possible foreign military sale to the government of India of MQ-9B remotely piloted aircraft and related equipment for an estimated cost of about $4 billion. This sale is a significant step in enhancing India’s capability to meet current and future threats by enabling unmanned surveillance and reconnaissance patrols in sea lanes of operation.
India’s Commitment to Modernizing its Military
India has demonstrated a strong commitment to modernizing its military, and this sale aligns with its objective. The Indian Navy has already leased two Sea Guardian systems, highlighting their need for advanced aerial technologies. With the acquisition of 31 MQ-9B Sky Guardian aircraft, India will further strengthen its defense capabilities.
The Key Systems included in the Sale
The sale includes 31 MQ-9B Sky Guardian aircraft with TP 33110 GD engines. The Indian Navy will receive 15 units, while the remaining 16 will be distributed equally between the Indian Army and Air Force. The MQ-9B remotely piloted aircraft systems, known as SkyGuardian, are designed for intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance missions. With the ability to securely integrate into civil airspace and fly over the horizon via satellite for up to 40 plus hours in all weather conditions, these aircraft provide real-time situational awareness and can be deployed day or night.
The TP 33110 GD Engine and its Significance
The TP 33110 GD engine, which powers the MQ-9B Sky Guardian, has commonality with Hindustan Aeronautics trainer aircraft, HT40, equipped with the TP 331 12b engine. This engine also finds application in the Hindustan Aeronautics Dorier 228, which uses the TPE 33110 GP12 Jr engine. The TP 33110 GD engine’s versatility and compatibility make it an excellent choice for various military aircraft.
Enhanced Surveillance Capabilities
One of the key technologies included in the sale is the main radar, known as Celect C Spray. This active electronically scanned array (AESA) surveillance radar is likely the Leonardo Galileo CPR 7500 year, 7500 V2 surveillance radar, specifically designed for land and maritime intelligence applications. With this advanced radar system, India will significantly enhance its surveillance capabilities and improve its situational awareness in both land and maritime domains.
Congress to Review the Deal Amid Pressure on India
While the $4 billion MQ-9B drone sale to India has been approved by the US, the deal is still subject to review by Congress. The approval comes amid pressure on India to bolster its defense apparatus due to regional security concerns. The review process in Congress will evaluate the deal’s viability and strategic implications, ensuring that it aligns with both US and Indian interests.
The approved $4 billion MQ-9B drone sale to India marks a significant milestone in India’s quest to modernize its military capabilities. With enhanced surveillance and reconnaissance abilities, India will be better equipped to address present and future threats effectively. The deal’s review by Congress highlights the importance of ensuring its compatibility with both nations’ strategic goals and interests.
Key Systems Included in the Potential Sale
The potential sale of MQ-9B drones to India includes various key systems. This includes 161 embedded global positioning and inertial navigation systems, 35 L3, Rio Grande Communications, intelligence sensor suites, 170 AGM-114 Hellfire missiles for anti-armour use with a range of up to 11 km, 310 GBU-39 laser small diameter bombs with extended range for all weather day or night use, and 250 lb class guided munition.
Notable Support Systems
A notable support system included in the potential sale is the 24a small tactical terminals. These terminals will facilitate communication and coordination between the drones and ground control.
Specific Equipment for Indian Navy
The MQ-9B BC Guardian specific equipment for the Indian Navy includes the NSSQ-62F son Bo for detecting and positioning submarines in preparation for attack, the SSQ-53G Sono which provides acoustic information at a fixed depth of 45 ft, and the NSSQ-36 Sonab which provides vertical temperature profiles of the ocean layer for research and anti-submarine warfare (ASW) purposes.
Principal Contractor and Offset Agreement
The principal contractor for this sale will be General Atomics Aeronautical Systems. India typically requests offsets in such deals, and any offset agreement will be defined in negotiations between India and General Atomics Aeronautical Systems.
Approval Process and US Congress Review
While the State Department has approved the sale, it does not guarantee its completion. The sale of MQ-9B drones to India requires approval from the US Congress. The deal will undergo review and discussion among lawmakers before a final decision is made.
Pressure on India
India is currently under pressure from the United States to take action regarding the assassination attempt on Kpan Sing Panan, a US national designated by India as a terrorist. The outcome of this incident may affect the progress of the drone sale, as the US expects India to address the situation.
India’s Purchase of MQ-9B Drones Approved by US
India’s plan to purchase a fleet of MQ-9B drones from the United States for a staggering $4 billion has recently received approval from the US government. This deal comes amid increasing pressure on India to bolster its defense capabilities and enhance its intelligence gathering capabilities.
Significance of MQ-9B Drones
The MQ-9B drones, also known as the Reaper, are advanced unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) that provide long-endurance and versatile surveillance capabilities. Equipped with state-of-the-art sensors and integrated technologies, these drones can operate in various conditions and perform multiple roles, such as intelligence gathering, reconnaissance, target acquisition, and strike operations.
Enhancing India’s Defense and Security
The acquisition of MQ-9B drones will significantly enhance India’s defense and security infrastructure. With their advanced capabilities, these drones will provide India with a strategic advantage in monitoring its borders, coastal areas, and potential trouble spots. This will help India in securing its territorial integrity and preventing any unauthorized activities.
Strengthening Intelligence Gathering
Integrating the MQ-9B drones into India’s existing network will maximize the processing, exploitation, and distribution of intelligence. These platforms can collect valuable data and imagery, allowing Indian intelligence agencies to gather accurate and real-time information. This will enable rapid decision-making and swift response to emerging threats and national security challenges.
Surveillance and Counterterrorism Operations
The powerful surveillance capabilities of the MQ-9B drones make them instrumental in counterterrorism operations. With their ability to cover vast areas and stay airborne for extended periods, these drones can monitor terrorist activities, track their movements, and provide crucial intelligence for preemptive strikes. This will aid India in effectively combating terrorism and maintaining internal stability.
Addressing Congress’s Concerns
Despite the approval of the drone sale, the US Congress has decided to review the deal. This review is prompted by concerns about India’s human rights record and its handling of internal conflicts. The Indian government will need to address these concerns and provide necessary assurances to ensure a smooth implementation of the deal.
Partnership and Future Prospects
The approval of the $4 billion MQ-9B drone sale highlights the growing strategic partnership between the United States and India. This collaboration not only strengthens bilateral defense ties but also signifies the mutual trust and shared interests of the two nations. It opens up opportunities for future defense cooperation and technological advancements for both countries.
India’s purchase of MQ-9B drones from the United States is a significant step towards modernizing its defense capabilities and strengthening its national security. With the integration of these advanced UAVs, India can enhance its intelligence gathering capabilities, conduct surveillance operations, and effectively counter terrorism. However, the deal still awaits the final approval of the US Congress, which adds an element of uncertainty to its implementation.
India, being the largest international operator of Boeing P8 aircraft and possessing a substantial inventory of ISR platforms of US origin, has been approved for a potential $4 billion MQ-9B drone sale by the US State Department. However, the deal is subject to US Congress approval. The ongoing pressure on India to take action regarding a designated terrorist will likely influence the Congress’ decision. Further updates will follow as the situation develops.
Click here to watch the video explaining the issue.