24 June 2017

News Story: MQ-9B drone sale for India to be OK'd

MQ-9B Guardian (Image: Wiki Commons)
By: Aaron Mehta

WASHINGTON — The U.S. State Department is in the final stages of clearing the sale of 22 MQ-9 drones to India, with an expectation that U.S. President Donald Trump will announce the sale during the upcoming visit of Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi. 

Modi, who will meet with Trump for the first time on June 26, is expected to discuss a wide range of topics, including terrorism and visas, but is poised to walk away with an offer to purchase the unarmed MQ-9B Guardian design produced by General Atomics. 

The Guardian design is a variant of the Predator B drone, equipped with several radar systems specifically useful for maritime searches.  

“We are pleased that the U.S. government has cleared the way for the sale of the MQ-9B Guardian to the Indian Government,” said Linden Blue, CEO of General Atomics Aeronautical Systems, in a statement to Defense News. “Guardian provides the endurance and capability required to significantly enhance India’s sovereign maritime domain awareness in the Indo-Pacific. General Atomics Aeronautical Systems is standing by to support the US and Indian Governments throughout this process” 

It is unclear how much the sale will be worth, nor what offsets were being offered to India. Modi’s Make in India initiative has emphasized production on the ground in India be part of weapon procurement from foreign suppliers. However, GA estimates the sale will create around 5,000 jobs in the U.S. through its supply chain. 

An industry source confirmed that General Atomics has been told the sale is being approved. A spokesman for the U.S. State Department declined to comment. 

But offering sales to New Delhi and getting them concluded are two very different things, with the Indian government notorious among defense circles for dragging out negotiations before cancelling them outright. 

Read the full story at DefenseNews