India’s purchase of US Predators is still awaiting government approval

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India's purchase of US Predators is still awaiting government approval

As the Narendra Modi administration is still committed to reaching “Aatmanirbhar Bharat” in the military hardware sector, the much-reported Indian acquisition of American Predator drones is still in the “pre-acceptance of necessity” (AON) stage.

The decision to advance the proposal through the AON and Defence Acquisition Council (DAC) would be made only when the government gives the go-ahead, according to diplomats located in Washington, D.C., and New Delhi. The initial suggestion was for India to buy 30 drones with the ability to perform reconnaissance, surveillance, and hunting; the Army, Navy, and Air Force would each receive 10 drones for use in applying force. 

The decision to purchase Predators from the US through foreign military sales, if it happens, will be political. However, the Indian subcontinent has entered the era of armed drones, with nations like China, Pakistan, Iran, the United Arab Emirates, Saudi Arabia, and Turkey possessing these stand-alone weapon systems.

The Predator is a tested and effective technology, but it is extremely expensive; if the project is authorised, it will cost India more than $3 billion.

It should be noted that India wants an armed drone but does not want to spend a lot of money on a drone that is only used for observation; the Israeli Heron enhanced drone does this job successfully for the Indian military at a much lower cost.

Despite the Modi government’s commitment to producing armed drones domestically, the issue has become urgent as a result of China’s rapid development of armed drones with both turbo-prop and turbo-fan engines. It has also given Pakistan the armed turbo-prop version of Wing Loong II drones, and Islamabad is reportedly considering buying Turkey’s far less expensive but still powerful Bayraktar TB 2 drone.

India is troubled by Turkey’s involvement in modernising Pakistani weapon systems, including submarines. Turkey still benefits from its Ottoman past. India has since improved the data connectivity and force capability of its Israeli Heron drones. Despite not possessing a Predator, it is capable of using an unmanned aerial aircraft to engage the opposition.

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