India is finalising its deal to acquire 30 US made MQ-9 Reaper or Predator B armed drones for its military. Defence Minister Rajnath Singh-led Defence Acquisition Council (DAC) will take the final call in its meeting scheduled for next week.
Official sources claim that India will be acquiring 30 MQ-9 Reaper—10 each for the three services (Army, Navy and IAF)—from the US worth $3 billion (approximately ₹22,000 crore). Procurement of armed drone will further sharpen India’s offensive capabilities as till date Indian military only operates drones for surveillance and reconnaissance missions.
“Earlier, one of the services was not keen to go ahead with the procurement of Predator B armed drones. But, now all issues have been resolved. DAC will take a final call on the issue soon,” said a defence official.
Moreover, if the deal goes through, it would be the first tri-service procurement since Chief of Defence Staff General Bipin Rawat was appointed to synergise the operational and procurement requirement of the armed forces. Once cleared by the DAC, the cabinet committee on security will give its final approval.
In 2019, Donald Trump-led US administration had approved the sale of Predator-B armed drones to India. If it happens, India will become the first country outside the NATO alliance to get such a weapon from Washington.
Last year, Major General Qasem Soleimani, the commander of powerful Quds Force of the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps, was killed along with several officials from Iraqi militia backed by Tehran when an American MQ-9 Reaper drone fired missiles into a convoy that was leaving the airport.