Predator drones to be deployed by defence forces at three major hubs across India

24 June, 2023 | Anupam Shrivastava

Predator Top News

The MQ-9 Reaper, also known as the Predator, is a Medium Altitude Long Endurance UAV that can fly for up to 36 hours straight and is useful for targeted surveillance of any target or region of inte...

Up to 31 Predator drones, which India will shortly purchase from the US, will be operated by the three services collectively. The MQ-9B Predator drones will be deployed at three major hubs across the country to carry out surveillance of all areas, including the borders with China and Pakistan, and the vast maritime zone.

One of the hubs would be established at INS Rajali, where the troops already control the two Predator drones they leased for the duration of the initial stage of a standoff with China in 2020–21. Additionally, the three forces would be controlling these drones from facilities that would allow for the takeoff and landing of such unmanned aircraft.

The deal to procure 31 drones at the cost of $4 billion was finalised by US and India after a scientific assessment conducted by tri-services integrated defence staff. “The analysis done under the Chief of Defence Staff and his integrated defence staff team suggested that for looking after the land borders and the aerial surveillance, 16 birds (attack drones) would be required,” an official told. “For looking after the maritime borders and the islands, the study suggested that India would require 16 drones,” he further added.

The MQ-9 Reaper, also known as the Predator, is a Medium Altitude Long Endurance UAV that can fly for up to 36 hours straight and is useful for targeted surveillance of any target or region of interest. The three services would work together to control up to 31 Predator drones that India would shortly purchase from the US. The drone is manufactured by General Atomics, a defence company now headed by an Indian-origin CEO Vivek Lall.

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US ready to assemble Predator drones in India

The successful trip of Prime Minister Modi has led to multiple defence agreements on various fronts. One of the big development includes the US commitment to assemble Predator drones in India. The US aims to make India a global hub for the maintenance, repair and overhaul of the highly advanced drones in India.

General Atomics CEO Dr Vivek Lall in an interview said that “We are very happy to note that Prime Minister Modi and President Biden have significantly enhanced the defence relationship between the two countries by announcing the decision to acquire MQ9B for the Indian armed forces.”

“This is a breakthrough moment for India-US strategic and defence partnership and General Atomics is pleased to be a major contributor in taking it to the next level,” he stated.