India to Buy 22 Drones from the US
Sea Guardians will be significant for Indian maritime security and naval power
As FORCE had reported back in June, the US will be selling 22 Sea Guardian drones to India at about an estimated cost of USD 2 billion, creating nearly 2,000 American jobs and cementing Indo-US bilateral ties.
“This should be viewed as a significant step in cementing the US-India bilateral defence relationship,” said chief executive US and international strategic development, General Atomics, Dr Vivek Lall.
The USD 2 billion dollar deal with General Atomics will operationalise the ‘major defence partner’ relationship status accorded to India by the Obama administration. The announcement was made during the first meeting of Prime Minister Modi with President Trump. This prospective purchase of drones manufactured by General Atomics marks the first of its kind from the US by a country that is not a member of NATO, said Dr Lall.
Dr Lall hopes that India has an opportunity to help create and lead a regional balance of power to protect its interests in the Indian Ocean region by building maritime engagements with regional and extra-regional partners.
The Sea Guardian is a variant of the tested MQ-9 platform which allows for greater interoperability with the US and allied forces, in a way other platforms do not permit demonstrating the centrality of General Atomics’ products to India’s defence needs, he said.
“This platform has 4 million hours in combat, will be able to certifiably fly in Indian civilian airspace and can remain airborne more than a record setting forty hours. Additionally, it has a 40,000-hour design life demonstrating its unique resilience. General Atomics maintains that this platform and its proven performance stands independently of and is unaffected by Israel’s Heron sales to India,” he further said.
According to him, the use of the Sea Guardian drones by the Indian Navy will also enhance India’s maritime capabilities. “India faces several complex security challenges in this domain such as piracy, terrorism, environmental degradation and narcotics trafficking. Maritime domain awareness would allow the Indian Navy an advantage in patrolling the Indian Ocean, and in tackling its pressing security challenges to achieve grander Indian strategic objectives,” he added.