Now the Indian Army shows interest in the Avenger UAV from the US-based General Atomics. Industry sources confirmed to FE Online that, “During the recent 2+2 India-US Strategic Dialogue in New Delhi, the request from the Indian Army for the UAVs was one of the items discussed when the US Secretary of Defence James Mattis met with the Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman.”
The first time the request was made by the Indian Army in June 2017, when Mattis was here for a bilateral meeting with Sitharaman.
As has been reported by FE earlier, the Trump administration has already started their internal processing for 100 armed drones for the Indian Air Force (IAF). The IAF has sought the jet propelled Avenger Drones (formerly Predator C).
Though the Indian armed forces have been using Israeli drones, the new UAVs from General Atomics are considered a game changer for the services given the geopolitics of the region. There is a requirement for at least 1000 units of UAVs in the armed forces. This does not include the paramilitary forces.
The critical Category One UAV technology for the Indian Navy’s request for the Sea Guardian Unmanned Aerial Systems deal of $ 2 bn has already been released by the Trump administration. In 2016, the navy had sent a request letter for 22 Sea Guardians to the American company. The Sea Guardian is exported to a very few select countries by the US administration and India will soon be joining that group.
The two countries have inked the logistics exchange memorandum of agreement (LEMOA), which is one of the foundational agreements in 2016, and in September this year has inked the ‘Communications, Compatibility, Security Agreement (COMCASA)’ which will allow transfer of encrypted communication security equipment from the US to India. These platforms include C-130 J, C-17, P-8I aircraft, and Apache and Chinook helicopters. However, India has yet to sign Basic Exchange and Cooperation Agreement for Geo-spatial Cooperation (BECA). After inking two major agreements with the US, and being termed as the preferred major defence partner for the US.