India’s $3 billion deal with America – for 30 armed MQ-9B Predator drones – has a long long way to go, with the Indian side seeking further clarification on the specifics of the deal. In particular, the price and transfer of technology.
“Due to the high procurement cost for the 30 armed drones, the Defence Ministry wants better insight into the deal. MoD has asked for some more details on the exact costing, the repair and maintenance facilities that will be set up in India, and the technology transfer it will entail,” a source told TOI on Tuesday.
The MQ-9B Predator drones are designed for long-range precision strikes against hostile targets on land and sea.
India’s Defence Acquisitions Council – led by Defence Minister Rajnath Singh – is set to move the deal for ‘acceptance of necessity,’ according to sources.
The deal with America is set to take place via the US’ foreign military sales programme, but the high cost of it has slowed down progress.
Once the Defence Acquisitions Council greenlights the acceptance of necessity, India will issue an actionable letter of request to the American government. The final contract will be inked only after Washington responds with a letter of acceptance and notifies its Congress.
“All this should be relatively fast since substantial discussions have already taken place. After the 15% down payment, the rest of the instalments will be spread over five to six years,” another TOI source said.
India has long been eyeing drones with offensive capabilities that will increase the forces’ long-range attacks. That requirement has led to the plan to acquire 30 MQ-9B or SeaGuardian/SkyGuardian remotely-piloted aircraft systems – 10 each for the Army, Navy and the Air Force – with different payloads to hunt and destroy targets over land and sea.