India is currently in the final stages of preparing a 'Letter of Request' (LoR) to be sent to the United States government for the purchase of 31 MQ-9B drones from General Atomics (GA), reported Economic Times.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi and US President Joe Biden are scheduled to meet, on 8 September, ahead of the G20 summit from 9-10 September.

The LoR, which will provide information on the equipment and terms of the procurement, is expected to be submitted within a month.

Once received, the US government and the Defence Ministry will negotiate and finalise the 'Letter of Offer and Acceptance' (LOA).

This LOA will outline the details of the equipment and terms of the procurement, and the price and terms offered by the US government including training, training materials, and supply of spare parts.

About three months ago (on 15 June), just a week ahead of Prime Minister Modi's visit to the US, the defence acquisition council approved the acquisition of 16 sky guardian and 15 sea guardian high-altitude long-endurance remotely piloted aircraft systems.

The Defence Ministry has clarified that the estimated cost of the drones is $3,072 million.

However, the final price will be negotiated once policy approval is received from the US government. The Defence Ministry stated that it will compare the acquisition cost with the best price offered by GA to other countries.

India aims to increase the indigenous content in the MQ-9B UAVs from the current 8 to 9 per cent offered by GA, to 15 to 20 per cent.

The assembly of the MQ-9Bs will take place in India, which will significantly enhance the intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance capabilities of India's armed forces.

These drones will also have the ability to carry out precision strikes on strategic targets in mountains and the maritime domain during long-endurance missions.

According to a joint statement issued by India and the US, GA plans to set up a comprehensive global maintenance, repair and operations or MRO facility in India.