In a landmark move, the United States State Department has granted approval for the sale of 31 MQ-9B Sky Guardian drones to India, signaling a pivotal moment in strengthening the country’s defense capabilities. The estimated cost of this significant deal stands at $3.99 billion, underscoring the strategic importance attached to enhancing India’s military prowess.
The MQ-9B Sky Guardian drones, equipped with state-of-the-art technology, are set to become a game-changer for India’s defense forces. Under this Foreign Military Sale (FMS) agreement, India will receive 31 High Altitude Long Endurance (HALE) UAVs, including 15 Sea Guardian drones for the Navy and eight each of the land version – SkyGuardian for the Army and the Indian Air Force.
This comprehensive deal encompasses not only the remotely piloted aircraft systems but also Ground Control Stations, TPE-331-10-GD engines, M299 Hellfire missile launchers, various radars, spare and repair parts, accessories, secure communications equipment, precision navigation tools, cryptographic equipment, and munitions support.
The US has also agreed to transfer 15–20% of the technology, involving key components like engines, radar processor units, avionics, sensors, and software, either through domestic production or imports from India.
The approval, granted on February 1, 2024, signifies a pivotal moment in the defense ties between the US and India. The Defense Security Cooperation Agency has duly notified Congress about this development, cementing the collaborative efforts between the two nations in strengthening India’s defense capabilities.
The MQ-9B Sky Guardian drones are anticipated to play a crucial role in enhancing India’s ability to address current and future threats, particularly in unmanned surveillance and reconnaissance patrols in sea lanes of operation. With the capacity to monitor both land and maritime borders, these drones are expected to fortify India’s security interests significantly.