Defence Ministry Approves Predator Drone Acquisition
In preparation for Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s upcoming visit to the United States, India’s Defence Ministry has granted approval for the acquisition of ‘Predator (MQ-9 Reaper) drones’ from America. This significant deal, estimated to be worth approximately USD 3 billion, was approved during a meeting of the Defence Acquisition Council (DAC) on June 15. The final decision on the procurement will be made by the Cabinet Committee on Security (CCS). The formal announcement of this mega procurement deal is expected to take place following discussions between Prime Minister Modi and President Joe Biden at the White House.
MQ-9B Drones Selected for Procurement
India has chosen the MQ-9B drone variant, based on the MQ-9 Reaper, for its diverse capabilities, including maritime surveillance, anti-submarine warfare, and over-the-horizon targeting. The Indian Navy is set to receive 14 drones, while the Indian Air Force and Army will each receive eight. These high-altitude long-endurance (HALE) drones have an impressive endurance of over 35 hours and can carry four Hellfire missiles and approximately 450 kg of bombs.
Progress on the Acquisition Process
The Defence Ministry is currently in the process of issuing an actionable letter of request (LoR) to the US government. Upon receiving the US government’s letter of offer and acceptance, the formal contract for the acquisition is expected to be finalized. However, it remains uncertain whether the procurement will involve any technology transfer.
Manufacturing Agreement for GE-414 Fighter Jet Engine
During Prime Minister Modi’s visit to Washington, there is a possibility of a manufacturing agreement for the GE-414 fighter jet engine in India. This agreement aims to power India’s indigenous combat aircraft, with the GE-414 engine being considered as a potential choice for the project.
Prime Minister Modi’s Engagements in the US
As part of his visit, Prime Minister Modi will make history by becoming the first Indian Prime Minister to address the Joint Meeting of the US Congress for the second time. This invitation underscores the deep-rooted relationship between the United States and India, emphasizing their shared commitment to global peace and prosperity, particularly in the Indo-Pacific region.
Additionally, Prime Minister Modi will address a gathering of Indian Americans in Washington, D.C., focusing on the role of the Indian diaspora in India’s development. This invitation-only event has gained significant attention, with all 838 seats being sold out.
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