In anticipation of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s upcoming visit to the United States, the Defence Ministry of India has granted approval for the acquisition of ‘Predator (MQ-9 Reaper) drones’ from America. The deal, which was approved during a meeting of the Defence Acquisition Council (DAC) on June 15, is estimated to be worth around USD 3 billion. The final decision on the procurement will be made by the Cabinet Committee on Security (CCS). The announcement of the mega procurement deal is expected to take place after discussions between Prime Minister Modi and President Joe Biden at the White House.
Procurement of MQ-9B Drones:
The MQ-9B drone, a variant of the MQ-9 Reaper, has been chosen by India for its diverse capabilities, including maritime surveillance, anti-submarine warfare, and over-the-horizon targeting. The Indian Navy is set to receive 14 drones, while the Indian Air Force and Army will each receive eight. These high-altitude long-endurance (HALE) drones can remain airborne for over 35 hours and are equipped with the capacity to carry four Hellfire missiles and approximately 450 kg of bombs.
Letter of Request and Contract Conclusion:
The Defence Ministry is currently in the process of issuing an actionable letter of request (LoR) to the US government. Once the US responds with a letter of offer and acceptance, the formal contract is expected to be finalized. However, it remains uncertain whether the procurement will involve any technology transfer.
Manufacturing Agreement for GE-414 Fighter Jet Engine:
During Prime Minister Modi’s visit to Washington, there is a possibility of a manufacturing agreement for the GE-414 fighter jet engine in India. This agreement aims to power India’s indigenous combat aircraft. The GE-414 engine is being considered as a potential choice for the project.
Joint Address to US Congress:
As part of his visit, Prime Minister Modi will become the first Indian Prime Minister to address the Joint Meeting of the US Congress for the second time. This invitation reflects the historic significance of the relationship between the United States and India, symbolizing their shared commitment to global peace and prosperity, particularly in the Indo-Pacific region.
Prime Minister’s Address to Indian Americans:
During his visit, Prime Minister Modi will address a gathering of Indian Americans in Washington, D.C. The invitation-only event will focus on the role of the Indian diaspora in India’s development. The event has garnered significant attention, with all 838 seats being sold out.