According to Bloomberg, India is spending a whopping $3 billion on buying 30 armed drones from the US. to boost its sea and land defenses as tensions with neighbors persist.
The country will approve the multi-billion-dollar purchase of MQ-9B Predator drones next month. They are manufactured by San Diego-based company called General Atomics. The drones the Indian military currently has in its possession are surveillance and reconnaissance only. Thus, the new purchase will enhance the military capability of the country.
The drone can fly for about 48 hours and carry a payload of about 1,700 Kgs. It will give the Indian Navy the ability to monitor Chinese warships in the Southern Indian Ocean efficiently. Additionally, the neighbor’s army will be adequately equipped to engage targets along the disputed border with Pakistan in the Himalayas.
Both US and India have had good military relations for decades and have been fostering since China’s rise as a regional hegemon is becoming imminent. However, India, Japan, and other US allies in South East are working to check China’s rise to power. Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s government is amid a 10-year, $250 billion military modernization.
India is expected to have a visit from US Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin this month. On the other hand, the “Quad” bloc is soon to have its first-ever meeting. The top leadership from all four, the US, Japan, Australia, and India will be participating. From US side, President Biden is joining the virtual meeting, which is scheduled for 12th March. India’s Ministry of External Affairs said they would be discussing issues including supply chains, maritime security, and climate change.
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Last Year, India leased two unarmed MQ-9 Predators as tensions with China were on the rise, and full conflict was being expected. However, they were not deployed after the Airforce expressed concern about US-operated drones flying over the border.