Drone deal to provide India "enhanced maritime security" with 16-fold aircraft increase, says US

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 India's deal with the US of almost USD 4 billion, paving the way for the acquisition of 31 state-of-the-art MQ-9B Sky Guardian drones, will not only propel India's defence capabilities but also ensure a 16-fold increase in the number of aircraft, significantly enhancing New Delhi's maritime security beyond the current lease agreement.

In response to queries from ANI, US State Department spokesperson Matthew Miller shed light on the recently approved foreign military sale of MQ-9B Remotely Piloted Aircraft to India.

He said, "I cannot give a timeline. This was the initial step today. Notifying Congress of the exact timeline of the delivery is something that we will explore with the government of India over the coming months."

Highlighting the significance of the deal, Miller emphasised, "Almost USD 4 billion sale of 31 MQ-9B Sky Guardian aircraft will provide India with enhanced maritime security and maritime domain awareness capability. It offers India outright ownership and a 16-fold increase in the number of aircraft as compared to their current lease."

The Biden administration has today notified the US Congress of its intent to sell nearly 4 billion dollars worth of arms, comprising mainly MQ-9B drones armed with Hellfire missiles.

The defence security cooperation agency, which is an agency within the US Department of Defence, said in a press release on Thursday that the sale helps in strengthening the US-Indian Strategic Relationship.

It added that New Delhi continues to be an "important force for political stability, peace, and economic progress in the Indo-Pacific and South Asia region."

"The US State Department has made a determination approving a possible foreign military sale to the Government of India of MQ-9B remotely piloted aircraft and related equipment for an estimated cost of USD 3.99 billion. The Defence Security Cooperation Agency delivered the required certification, notifying Congress of this possible sale today," the Defence Security Cooperation Agency said in a statement.

The Government of India has requested to buy 31 MQ-9B Sky Guardian aircraft: one 161 Embedded Global Positioning and Inertial Navigation Systems (EGIs); 35 L3 Rio Grande Communications Intelligence Sensor Suites; 170 AGM-114R Hellfire missiles; 16 M36E9 Hellfire Captive Air Training Missiles (CATM); 310 GBU-39B/B Laser Small Diameter Bombs (LSDB); and 8 GBU-39B/B LSDB Guided Test Vehicles (GTVs) with live fuzes, the US Department of Defence also said.

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