Navy, Army and IAF finally agree to procure armed drones from US in $3 bn deal
Impressed with the performance of the two leased Sea Guardian drones, the Navy, Army and the Air Force will finally jointly procure 30 armed versions of the American unmanned aerial system in what could be a $3 billion deal, ThePrint has learnt.
The decision comes just before US Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin’s visit to India later this month. Austin’s visit could be a precursor to the impending meet of the ‘Quad’ leaders — US, India, Australia and Japan — which is likely to be held soon.
According to sources in the defence and security establishment, initially one of the three services were not on board about procuring the armed predator drones but now all three are finally on the same page.
They added that the Defence Minister Rajnath Singh-led Defence Acquisition Council (DAC) could take a final decision on this “soon”.
If approved, this would be the first tri-service procurement since Chief of Defence Staff General Bipin Rawat was appointed to steer the Indian armed forces into a more united force, both in terms of operational doctrine and procurement.
The erstwhile Trump administration had expected the deal for 30 armed drones to be announced at the two-plus-two ministerial dialogue in New Delhi on 27 October 2020. However, India did not succumb to the hard American push to seal the deal then.