Washington | The US has said the sale of 31 armed drones to India at an estimated cost of nearly USD 4 billion would provide it with an enhanced maritime security and domain awareness capability and give the country outright ownership of these aircraft.
Last week, the US approved the sale of 31 MQ-9B armed drones to India at an estimated cost of USD 3.99 billion, an acquisition that will bolster India's capability to meet current and future threats by enabling unmanned surveillance and reconnaissance patrols in sea lanes of operation.
“This sale, we believe, will provide India with an enhanced maritime security and maritime domain awareness capability,” State Department Deputy Spokesperson Vedant Patel told reporters at his daily news conference.
“It offers India outright ownership of these aircraft, and this is something that we'll continue to deepen our cooperation with our Indian partners on,” Patel said.
The mega deal to acquire the drones from US defence major General Atomics (GA) was announced during Prime Minister Narendra Modi's historic state visit to the US in June 2023.
Under the deal, India will get 31 High Altitude Long Endurance (HALE) UAVs, of which the Navy will get 15 SeaGuardian drones, while the Army and the Indian Air Force will get eight each of the land version – SkyGuardian.
While announcing the approval of the deal, Defense Security Cooperation Agency (DSCA) on Thursday said the proposed sale will support the foreign policy and national security objectives of the United States by helping to strengthen the US-Indian strategic relationship.
It will improve the security of a major defence partner, which continues to be an important force for political stability, peace, and economic progress in the Indo-Pacific and South Asia region, the Agency said.