Monday, June 26, 2017

India settles for US spy drones

Jun 26 2017 : The Times of India (Chennai)
Keen on combat, India settles for US spy drones
New Delhi

India's quest for advanced surveillance drones to keep a hawk eye on the Indian Ocean region will now be met through the proposed acquisition of Predator naval drones from the US. But what it really wants is combat drones or unmanned combat aerial vehicles (UCAVs) in the long run.Akin to fighter jets but remotely controlled through satellites from thousands of miles away , combat drones are capable of firing missiles and precision-guided munitions on enemy targets before returning to their home bases to re-arm for the next mission.
Their game-changing impact on modern-day warfare can be gauged from the way the US has been extensively using Predator and Reaper armed drones to fire deadly `Hellfire' missiles against Taliban targets in the Af-Pak region with devastating effect.
India, as of now, is in talks with the US for only unarmed Predator or MQ-9B Guardian unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs), which are high-alti tude, long-endurance drones capable of flying non-stop for over 27 hours for intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance missions. This, too, became possible only after India joined the 34-member Missile Technology Control Regime, which prevents proliferation of missiles and UAVs over the range of 300km, in June 2016.
Ahead of PM Narendra Modi's trip to Washington, the Trump administration had cleared the sale of 22 MQ-9B Guardian drones manufactured by General Atomics to India, in what will eventually be a government-to-government deal after the US Congress is first notified and long-drawn bilateral negotiations are then held.
India, however, is on course to acquire 10 Heron-TP missilearmed drones for around $400 million from Israel, even as PM Modi is scheduled to visit the Jewish state early next month, as was earlier reported by TOI.
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