The Indian Navy is already using two unarmed SeaGuardian drones that it leased last year from the US

At a time when India and the US are discussing defence ties in Washington, India is looking to decrease the number of Predator drones that it would acquire from America. As per earlier plans, India wanted to buy 30 Sea Guardian drones from the US under a USD 3 billion deal.

High-Level Committee Formed To Decide On Curtailed Drone Deal

In view of the indigenous capability development, a high-level committee has been formed to decide on the number of drones that the three forces would want to buy now as long Terri requirements would be met by the desi drones being developed indigenously, top government sources told India Today.

The committee is headed by a Lieutenant General rank officer posted under the Department of Military Affairs, they said. Three services' headquarters wanted to acquire drones for surveillance and kill options, both in uncontested air space. The drones will come armed with advanced systems and weapons packages and enable long-range surveillance and precision strikes.

Drones In Indian Armed Forces

India’s drone shopping list includes the SeaGuardian/SkyGuardian variants of the MQ-9B. Reports said the Indian Army, Navy and Air Force will each get 10 drones each with customised specifications. The Indian Navy is already using two unarmed SeaGuardian drones that it leased last year from the US for surveillance in the Indian Ocean Region. The Indian Navy is the lead service for the acquisition of these drones.

The option of leasing weapon systems has been provisioned under the Defence Acquisition Procedure 2020 and the Defence Procurement Manual 2009. This helps India cut back on expenditure, since the responsibility of maintenance also lies with the vendor.

Over the past few years, the Indian armed forces have been showing faith in American systems for surveillance requirements. The Indian Navy is already using as many as nine P-8I long-range surveillance planes and is expected to get another nine over the next few years.