India is planning to acquire MQ-9 Reaper (Predator B) armed drones from the United States, and the latter’s easing of drone export restrictions on Friday could make things more convenient.
New Delhi kicked off acquisition process for six each of Boeing Poseidon-8I aircraft and General Atomics’ Predator B or weaponized SeaGuardian drones. The country wanted to acquire ten each of those drones with different payloads for the Air Force, Army and the Navy. The deal was estimated to be valued over $3 billion.
“The original plan for the 30 Predators will take some more time. Meanwhile, the utilization of the fast-track procurement (FTP) route for acquiring six of these drones- two each for the three services- is now under consideration,” Times of India reported, citing top defense sources on July 25.
The U.S. announced on July 24 it loosened restrictions on the export of military-grade drones that fly at speeds below 800kmph to its allies.
Manufacturer General Atomics claims that the Predator B has an endurance of over 27 hours, maximum speed of 240 KTAS (444.5kmph), can operate up to 50,000 feet, and has a 3,850 pound (1746 kilogram) payload capacity that includes 3,000 pounds (1361 kilograms) of external stores. Predator B is equipped with a fault-tolerant flight control system and triple redundant avionics system architecture. Predator B is powered by the flight-certified and proven Honeywell TPE331-10 turboprop engine, integrated with Digital Electronic Engine Control (DEEC). The aircraft is highly modular and is configured easily with a variety of payloads to meet mission requirements. Predator B is capable of carrying multiple mission payloads to include: Electro-optical/Infrared (EO/IR), Lynx Multi-mode Radar, multi-mode maritime surveillance radar, Electronic Support Measures (ESM), laser designators, and various weapons packages.