NEW DELHI --- India is likely to buy only naval surveillance drones from the United States, scaling back its plans after holding talks on acquiring armed Predator drones under the foreign military sales route.
The two sides have been discussing a $2 billion deal for unmanned combat aerial vehicles (UCAVs) but a lack of interest from the Indian Air Force and commitment to an indigenous programme by the Indian Army are likely to come in the way, people aware of the matter told ET on condition of anonymity.
The Indian Navy has an interest in acquiring US-made surveillance drones as it needs more assets for maritime domain awareness in the region, said the people. However, this requirement is for a long endurance, unarmed drone that can work in coordination with other surveillance platforms like the Boeing P-8I aircraft, they said.
The navy is likely to go ahead with a limited purchase option of 10 Sea Guardian drones that are interoperable with other US assets in the region. The activation of the Communications Compatibility and Security Agreement (COMCASA) will help the navy exploit the platforms for joint surveillance and intelligence sharing. (end of excerpt)
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(EDITOR’S NOTE: Left unsaid in the above article is that the Indian Air Force’s decision not to proceed with the acquisition of armed MQ-9 drones was influenced by the shooting down of several Chinese- and US-made armed drones in recent months.)