The India-US defense relationship has gained significant momentum in recent years and the two nations are eager to conclude a crucial deal that involves the acquisition of 30 MQ-9B predator armed drones, news agency PTI reported.
The deal is estimated to cost over USD 3 billion and is expected to significantly bolster India's surveillance capabilities along the Line of Actual Control (LAC) and the Indian Ocean. The MQ-9B predator armed drones are expected to play a key role in India's national security and defense efforts and both nations are keen on inking the deal as soon as possible.
The deal has been pending for over five years and the reasons for the delay are not known to the public. However, it is believed that the issues were discussed during recent meetings between the National Security Advisor of India, Ajit K Doval, and the top American leadership, including his counterpart Jake Sullivan. Both sides have expressed their eagerness to fast-track the deal and India is keen on an early conclusion to get an early delivery of the MQ-9B predator armed drones.
"The ball is now in India's court," PTI quoted officials familiar with the development as saying.
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The Biden administration is also keen on concluding the deal as it would create jobs and have political benefits ahead of the next year's presidential elections. The MQ-9B predator armed drone is the premier multi-role, long endurance remotely piloted aircraft in the world today and is in high demand globally. It has been adopted by several nations, including Japan, Belgium, and Great Britain, among others.
Vivek Lall, the CEO of General Atomics Global Corporation, has stated that the MQ-9B predator armed drone would enable its Indian military users to fly farther, spend more time in the air, and handle a greater diversity of missions than any other similar aircraft. It can also carry a wide variety of specialist payloads, conduct search and rescue, support customs authorities, augment naval forces, and perform many other tasks. The aircraft is equipped with sophisticated technologies such as artificial intelligence and machine learning, which help to analyze the rich feed of insight from the aircraft and distribute it to decision-makers.
Assistant Secretary of State for Political Military Affairs Jessica Lewis has stated that the US is ready to help India diversify its defense needs and that there are a whole host of options available to the Indian government. She added that the US is committed to continuing its work with India and growing the defense relationship further.