The Ministry of Defence (MoD) is preparing to acquire 30 General Atomics MQ-9B Guardian drones from the United States, in a deal valued at approximately $3 billion (Rs 22,000 crore).
Impressed with the performance of the two leased Sea Guardian drones, the Navy, Army and the Air Force will finally jointly procure 30 armed versions of the American unmanned aerial system in what could be a $3 billion deal, ThePrint has learnt.
The decision comes just before US Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin’s visit to India later this month. Austin’s visit could be a precursor to the impending meet of the ‘Quad’ leaders — US, India, Australia, and Japan — which is likely to be held soon.
According to sources in the defence and security establishment, initially one of the three services were not on board about procuring the armed predator drones but now all three are finally on the same page.
They added that the Defence Minister Rajnath Singh-led Defence Acquisition Council (DAC) could take a final decision on this “soon”.
In 2018, the US had offered India the armed version of the Guardian drones, which were originally authorized for sale as unarmed and for surveillance purposed.