India Eyes $8 Billion Worth 100 Avenger Predator Drones from US

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India has plans to buy 100 jet propelled Avenger predator drones from the US costing an estimated $8 billion for the Indian Air Force (IAF).

Besides joint projects under the bilateral Defence Technology and Trade Initiative (DTTI), in her first major engagement with a foreign counterpart, defence minister Nirmala Sitharaman talks on September 26 with the US officials will focus on India-US defence cooperation, maritime security, avenger predator drones, counter-terrorism and other major issues of mutual concern, the sources added.  Issues related to American defence companies seeking guarantees of retaining control of propriety and sensitive technologies in joint ventures under the “Make in India” policy, is expected to be raised by the US side, the Financial Express reported Friday.

Recent media reports have indicated that the Pakistan foreign ministry has objected to the Sea Guardian Predator sale saying it would upset the balance of military capability in the region. Pakistan had been lobbying at the state department prior to Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s visit to ensure the Sea Guardian is not offered to India in response to the latter’s request for such. The visiting secretary is scheduled to meet Prime Minister Modi and national security advisor Ajit Doval on September 26.

The high-speed, multi-mission Avenger is a long-endurance, medium-to-high-altitude Remotely Piloted Aircraft (RPA) system that can perform wide-area surveillance, time-sensitive strike missions over land or sea, and a host of other challenging military missions. The aircraft has much higher operational and transit speeds than current Predator-series aircraft, resulting in quick response and rapid repositioning for improved mission flexibility and survivability.

Avenger is a next-generation RPA. The jet-powered aircraft is equipped with a Pratt and Whitney PW545B turbofan engine capable of producing 4,800 pounds installed thrust. The engine is designed for fuel economy and features class-leading fuel consumption components. Avenger can operate at speeds up to 400 KTAS, a maximum altitude of 50,000 feet, and 18 hours endurance. Its significant payload capacity enables it to carry multiple sensors, while its internal weapons bay can house 3,500 pounds of precision munitions.