India is trying to push forward a deal with the United States to buy Predator drone aircraft for military surveillance.
Government officials in Delhi are hoping to complete the main process in the next few months so that only administrative tasks remain by the time US President Barack Obama leaves office.
India has requested for 22 unarmed multi- mission Predator Guardian drones for maritime surveillance, especially in the Indian Ocean. The request was made in June and is in advance stage of negotiations.
Though India has also requested the armed version of the Predator, US export control laws prohibit such a transfer.
This was the first major request of arms sale purchase by India after Obama designated New Delhi as a major strategic defence partner.
The US authorities believe that such a deal would bring the relations between the two countries to “a new level of comfort.”
The predator Guardian UAVs would act as a force multiplier for India’s maritime surveillance capabilities in the Indian Ocean region, which of late has become one of the key American objectives in the Asia Pacific region.
Given the good relations between Prime Minister Narendra Modi and US President Barack Obama, New Delhi is also on the cusp of sealing a US nuclear reactor deal worth billions of dollars.
Washington has given New Delhi access to high-end military technology, such as a new system to launch planes off aircraft carriers, and leaned on other countries to give India membership in the Missile Technology Control Regime, which cleared the way for the sale of the unarmed Predator.
In August the Modi government signed a logistics agreement giving each country access to the other’s military bases, after 10 years of negotiations. Also on the table are two other defence agreements, one on securing communications and the other on sharing spatial data that Washington has been pushing for.