In a recent U.S.-India 2+2 ministerial dialogue in New Delhi, the latter reportedly resisted the acquisition of MQ-9 Reaper unmanned aircraft that come with an expensive price tag.
“The deal is valued at around $3 billion. Financial constraint is one of the major reasons behind the decision, besides we are still evaluating the advantage that our armed forces can receive from these drones,” highly placed government sources were quoted as saying by Sputnik today.
Officials admitted that there is “no consensus over the usefulness,” while adding that the sale of these armed drones was at the top of the agenda on the American side during the meeting earlier this week.
India, for long, has been mulling over purchase of 30 MQ-9s or Predator-B drones, for $3 billion. 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. India was expected to acquire the aircraft, under toned down U.S. export restrictions.
Last month, India Today reported citing sources that India plans to acquire six MQ-9B Guardian drones from the United States - two each for the Army, Air Force and the Navy - for $600 million under fast track procurement. The remaining 24 - eight drones for each service - will be acquired over the next three years under an ‘option clause’ in the contract.
The Reaper is capable of carrying four Hell-Fire missiles and two 500-pound laser-guided bombs. The aircraft can carry electro-optical / infra-red multi-mode radar and multi-mode maritime surveillance radar, laser designators, electronic support measures and various weapons packages. It can form a deadly combination with two other U.S.-supplied platforms - the P8I Poseidon long range maritime patrol aircraft and the (under delivery) MH-60R multi-role helicopters - to track and hunt surface ships and submarines in the Indian Ocean region.