Drones
Print Friendly, PDF & Email

News Analysis 

International sources have not yet not confirmed that US has supplied its drones to India. And some defense sources, close to Pakistan Air Force, argue off the record, that while India is desperate but the US has not still not made its mind to sell drones to India – Editor GVS

A section of Pakistani media has reported that Pakistani aerial intelligence has detected Indian use of US made high tech drones across Line of Control (LOC) in the disputed Kashmir region. Pakistani defense analysts fear that, if true, this, irresponsible American action, in total disregard of regional balance of technologies, will catapult South Asia into a new destabilizing arms race.

International sources have not yet not confirmed that US has supplied its drones to India. And some defense sources, close to Pakistan Air Force, argue off the record, that while India is desperate but the US has not still not made its mind to sell drones to India. Pakistani defense sources argue that this move by US, as suggested by a section of Pakistan’s English media, of injecting a high-tech tool into a regional equation, will not only disturb the precariously placed ‘regional balance’ between India and Pakistan but will also complicate Pakistan’s relations with the US. Pakistan has been repeatedly asking for similar technology to hit the militants in its war against terrorism on the western front but US continuously denied Pakistani requests.

Pakistani military and government therefore kept pleading to Washington to share the technology with Pakistan. It was argued that drones being used by Pakistan or in a shared use with the US, will reduce the political impact inside Pakistan. It would have allowed Pakistan to claim that it has control over the “US lead War against terrorism” inside its territory. But US repeatedly refused. Now US sharing such advanced technology with Pakistan’s arch-rival India and India making use of it in an internationally disputed territory of Kashmir is as big a set back as it could be described.

Since 9/11, and especially since 2007, US has increasingly used armed “Predator Drones” now equipped with Hell Fire Missiles in the theatre of conflict then described as “Af-Pak”. From the last days of Bush administration, in election year, up till 2014, US has made hundreds of drone strikes against all kinds of targets within Pakistan, the latest such strike only took place in March 2017 in Khurram Agency. Obama administration had made a much wider use of drone strikes inside Pakistan, peaking in the years: 2009-2010. Drone strikes have been contentious and extremely unpopular with Pakistani public. While Pakistani human rights groups have mostly remained silent but international human right groups, like Amnesty International, raised their voice and created significant pressures upon Obama administration – that forced a scaling down of such drone strikes.

One key issue that emerged for Pakistani public was of Pakistan’s sovereignty; Pakistani military and government therefore kept pleading to Washington to share the technology with Pakistan. It was argued that drones being used by Pakistan or in a shared use with the US, will reduce the political impact inside Pakistan. It would have allowed Pakistan to claim that it has control over the “US lead War against terrorism” inside its territory. But US repeatedly refused.

Now if the US shares such advanced technology with Pakistan’s arch-rival India and India ends up making use of it in an internationally disputed territory of Kashmir will be as big a set back as it could be described. US decision makers, in doing so, would clearly show total disregard for Pakistani sensitivities – one defense official argued off the record, but insisted that US has not sold ‘predators’ to India and Indians are still using the Israeli made “Heron-ER” versions.

India has not officially made any statement regarding the deployment of US-made drones, however, Pakistan’s surveillance drones equipped with night-vision have spotted them over Poonch and Rajouri area which is along the LoC; reports Pakistani media.

read more: Barbarity with Modernity: India introduces new pellet guns for Kashmiris

Pakistan has its own local made drones which it used with success during the initial phasing of Operation Zarb-e-Azb in 2015 which helped it in more precise targeting in tribal areas near the Afghan border. However US drone technology is state of the art

In July 2016, an Indian spy drone was shot down by Pakistan which ISPR had claimed to be used for aerial photography. However, with India acquiring advanced U.S technology, stakes will rise for Pakistan. Country has its own local made drones which it used with success during the initial phasing of Operation Zarb-e-Azb in 2015 which helped it in more precise targeting in tribal areas near the Afghan border. However US drone technology is state of the art and is years ahead of anything available with any of its competitors like Russia and China.

read more: Indian fears: Is Russia joining Pakistan China in CPEC?

Presence of US drones will suddenly change the balance of technologies available in the region. This becomes more important given the all time high tensions between the two nuclear rivals in South Asia; especially after the so-called ‘surgical strikes’ conducted by India on 29th September, in apparent response to Uri military base attack September 18th.

Read Also: Trump’s First Drone Strike inside Pakistan: What does it mean? GVS

U.S replacing Russia as India’s main arms supplier

U.S is now attempting to replace Russia as India’s main arm’s supplier. This gives India lots of negotiating ability and space. Reportedly, India is on the verge of sealing the deal for US nuclear reactor which is worth billions of dollars and something which US manufacturers vie for years.

read more: Lahore Bleeds: Is India Taking Revenge?

Indian Air Force is reportedly communicating with General Atomics for the purchase of the Avenger drone

As a token of appreciation for the deal, India has been granted access to Washington’s top of the line military technology. U.S also backed India’s membership in Missile Technology Control Regime, (MTCR) which apparently paved the way for the sale of unarmed Predator, after which Indian military asked for an armed version but due to US export control laws its transfer is prohibited. This much is being reported by Pakistani media.

United States fully understands that India has no real use of advanced “Avenger Drones” and if it ever acquires it will only be using these against Pakistan. And Pakistan will have no option left but to seek “Cloud Shadow” drones from China.

Indian Air Force is reportedly communicating with General Atomics for the purchase of the Avenger drone. Founded originally in 1955 as a division of General Dynamics, General Atomics (“GA”) and its affiliated companies now constitute one of the world’s leading resources for high-technology systems ranging from the nuclear fuel cycle to electromagnetic systems, remotely operated surveillance aircraft, airborne sensors, and advanced electronic, wireless and laser technologies.

For over 50 years, GA and its affiliates have been qualified by U.S. Government organizations, including the Department of Energy, Department of Defense and the National Science Foundation, as a government contractor and facilities operator.

The Avenger drone, Indian Airfare is interested, is capable of carrying 3,500 pounds of ammunition, flying for 18 hours and reaching an altitude of 50,000 feet, which surpasses the range of Pakistan’s payload drone series. Informed sources claim that news story in Pakistani media may be misleading; United States fully understands that India has no real use of advanced “Avenger Drones” and if it ever acquires it will only be using these against Pakistan. And Pakistan will have no option left but to seek “Cloud Shadow” drones from China. Chinese drones with lesser payload capacity and endurance are nevertheless similar to the Avengers.

Note: An earlier version of this News Analysis relies upon Pakistani media sources that claimed that US drones are being used by India in disputed Kashmir. However sources in Pakistan Air Force and military are skeptical of those media claims – Editor GVS

2 COMMENTS

  1. Nothing makes more sense than India and Pakistan talking to each other directly and mutually addressing the core issues. USA or any other global power will never compromise their economic and strategic interest of selling arms to developing nations.

  2. Pakistan is ahead of as India in drone technology race and now Pakistan making thier own drone’s technology Like if u know the name of ‘BURRAQ’

Comments & Discussion