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Predator Drone Deal with US: MQ-9 Reaper & Its Significance for India Explained

Predator Drone Deal with US: MQ-9 Reaper & Its Significance for India Explained

Written by Sanjay Kumar

Prime Minister Narendra Modi is preparing for his upcoming visit to the United States while the Defence Ministry of India has granted approval for the acquisition of Predator (MQ-9 Reaper) drones from America on June 15. According to ANI, the final decision regarding the deal will be made by the Cabinet Committee on Security (CCS).

“The deal for the Predator drones was given approval by the Defence Acquisition Council meeting today. The acquisition proposal will now have to follow a procedure after which it will have to be cleared by the Cabinet Committee on Security,” ANI quoted defence sources as saying.

The Indian Navy is leading the acquisition process for this deal, intending to procure 15 drones specifically for surveillance operations within its designated area of responsibility.

Additionally, the Indian armed forces have plans to acquire similar medium altitude and long endurance drones from domestic sources to enhance their indigenous capabilities.

The acquisition of Predator armed drones is seen as a strategic move by military planners to bolster India’s offensive capabilities, according to reports. General Atomics Aeronautical Systems, the manufacturer of these drones, has partnered with Bharat Forge to produce landing gear components, subassemblies, and assemblies for remotely piloted aircraft, specifically the Predator drones. This collaboration is expected to contribute to the development of capabilities for both parties and strengthen the unmanned aircraft industry in India.

Now, let’s take a closer look at some key details about the MQ-9 Reaper drones:

  • The MQ-9 Reaper drone is primarily used by the US Air Force for intelligence collection and, secondarily, for executing dynamic targets. The ‘M’ in its name stands for multi-role, ‘Q’ indicates it is a remotely piloted aircraft system, and ‘9’ signifies that it is the ninth in the series of such systems.
  • The initial proposal for the MQ-9 Reaper system was made by the US Air Force in response to the Department of Defense directive to support overseas contingency operations.
  • This drone possesses unique capabilities for conducting strikes, reconnaissance, and coordination against high-value, fleeting, and time-sensitive targets. It is also suitable for irregular warfare operations that align with the objectives of combatant commanders. The Reapers can perform various missions, including intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance, close air support, combat search and rescue, precision strike, convoy and raid overwatch, route clearance, target development, and terminal air guidance.
  • The baseline system of the MQ-9 Reaper is equipped with the Multi-Spectral Targeting System (MTS-B), which integrates infrared sensors, color and monochrome daylight TV cameras, shortwave infrared cameras, a laser designator, and a suite of visual sensors for precise targeting and laser illumination. It also features a laser rangefinder/designator for accurately designating targets for laser-guided munitions and a synthetic aperture radar.
  • The MQ-9 can carry up to eight laser-guided missiles, Air-to-Ground Missile-114 Hellfire, which are known for their high accuracy, low collateral damage, and anti-armor and anti-personnel engagement capabilities. Furthermore, the drone can be disassembled and loaded into a single container for deployment and transportation via the C-130 Hercules or larger aircraft.

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