In the wake of repeated incidents of incursions by China, India is looking to obtain drones, both armed and surveillance, from the US.
In the recent past, incursions by Chinese army have been a cause of concern on the Indian side. According to latest data, Chinese army made around 360 incursion attempts in Ladakh this calendar and there have been about 150 face-offs between Indian and Chinese troops along the Line of Actual Control.
Reports say the country is looking to buy 100 such drones worth $2 billion.
On top of the list is armed Predator Avenger drones. The Avenger is capable to fly nonstop for 18 hours, conduct long-distance missions carrying a payload of almost two tons.
With Avenger, India can easily reach any part of Pakistan without risking its own soldier’s lives.
If successful, this would make India one of the first countries to import the lethal drones from the U.S.
India currently has Israeli made drones, which can be used only for surveillance missions.
In addition, the country is also looking to purchase the Predator XP, a surveillance drone, for internal security issues and terrorist threats.
Though talks in this regard have proceeded further, the United States has not made any formal commitment or given a public indication pending India’s application to joining Missile Technology Control Regime (MTCR).
Italy, which is upset with New Delhi’s treatment of its marines, appears to have currently blocked India becoming a member of MTCR.
However, both Indian and U.S. officials are hopeful that they will get through this hurdle in the next few months.
Experts say that Predator-series Remotely Piloted Aircraft (RPA) could provide a world-class Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance (ISR) capability for India which would include both high-definition radar and Electro-Optical/Infrared (EO/IR) coverage along India’s borders.
The RPA can also aid in disaster relief surveillance over both land and sea.
The upgrades in the RPA includes an automatic takeoff and landing capability, redundant flight control surfaces, enhanced avionics, and triple-redundant flight control computers.
These RPA can also identify vessels at sea, as they are equipped with an Automatic Identification System.
For over-the-horizon operations, these RPAs are equipped with both Line-of-Sight (LOS) and Beyond-Line-of-Sight (BLOS) data link systems.
“The ability to be flown from remote locations precludes the need for a large logistics footprint at forward operating bases,” Vivek Lall, chief executive of the U.S. and International Strategic Development of General Atomics had said.