India plans to ink a major defence deal with the US to procure 30 armed drones worth $3 billion (approximately Rs 22,000 crore) to enhance military capabilities, sources said. As per plans, India will be acquiring 30 MQ-9 Reaper — 10 each for the three services.

The approval to take these armed drones could be finalised during Defence Acquisition Council (DAC) meeting lead by Defence Minister Rajnath Singh.

To further cement the deal, US Defence Secretary Lloyd Austin is expected to visit India later this month. India is becoming a strategic defence partner for the US, especially countering Chinese influence in the Indian Ocean.

These MQ-9B Predator drones are manufactured by San Diego-based General Atomics. The MQ-9B has an endurance of 48 hours and a range of over 6,000 nautical miles. It carries maximum payload of 2-tonne.

It comes with nine hard-points, capable of carrying sensors and laser-guided bombs besides air-to-ground missiles.

Last month, Indian Army Chief, General Manoj Mukund Naravane, highlighted the role of drones in military warfare.

He had said that everyone has seen how the very imaginative and offensive use of drones in Idlib and then in Armenia-Azerbaijan, challenged the traditional prima donnas: the tanks, the artillery and the dug-in infantry.

He also talked about a showcase of swarm drone offensive striking multiple targets during the Army Day Parade in January.

Source: National Herald India

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