The US State Department has given its approval for the potential sale of 31 MQ-9B armed unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) and associated equipment to India, estimated at $3.99 billion. The Defense Security Cooperation Agency (DSCA) provided the necessary certification to Congress, which must ratify arms sales, on Thursday.
The agreement with General Atomics Aeronautical Systems was disclosed during Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s visit to the US. India had previously expressed its intent to procure 31 MQ-9B Sky Guardian aircraft, along with 161 Embedded Global Positioning & Inertial Navigation Systems (EGIs), 35 L3 Rio Grande Communications Intelligence Sensor Suites, 170 AGM-114R Hellfire missiles, 16 M36E9 Hellfire Captive Air Training Missiles (CATM), 310 GBU-39B/B Laser Small Diameter Bombs (LSDB), and 8 GBU-39B/B LSDB Guided Test Vehicles (GTVs) with live fuzes, as announced by the Defense Security Cooperation Agency.
The deal also encompasses Ground Control Stations, TPE-331-10-GD engines, M299 Hellfire missile launchers, various radars, initial spare and repair parts, accessories, secure communications, precision navigation, cryptographic equipment, munitions support, and support equipment. The DSCA stated, “This proposed sale will support the foreign policy and national security objectives of the US by helping to strengthen the US-Indian strategic relationship and improving the security of a major defense partner, which continues to be an important force for political stability, peace, and economic progress in the Indo-Pacific and South-Asia region.”
The Indian Navy has already deployed two leased MQ9Bs for surveillance in the Indian Ocean Region and anticipates acquiring 15 more from the proposed deal. Additionally, the Indian Army and Air Force are set to receive 8 each to enhance their capabilities.
The potential sale is expected to enhance India’s capacity to address current and future threats by facilitating unmanned surveillance and reconnaissance patrols in sea lanes of operation, as stated by the DSA.
However, the agreement does not yet include settled offset obligations, which will be determined through negotiations between the purchaser and the contractor.