New Delhi: Amid standoff with the United States over USD5.4 billion deal with Russia for S-400 Triumf missile system, New Delhi is all set to acquire 30 weaponized Sea Guardian drones with the US.
The drones will be used by all the three branches of the Indian Armed Forces with 10 drones each for the Army, Navy, and the IAF to seek and destroy targets on land and sea. The proposal has now reached the Defence Acquisitions Council (DAC) for approval.
A “letter of request” will be issued to the US government once “acceptance of necessity” is granted by the DAC.
With this mega defence acquisition, India becomes the third country and the first non-NATO member nation to get the armed version of Guardian drones by the US.
Designed for long-endurance flight and high-altitude surveillance, the “hunter-killer” Sea Guardians possess advanced ground control stations and are capable of firing air-to-ground missiles and smart bombs.
While the US is upset with India over S-400 Triumf deal, India has already made it clear that it won’t cancel the acquisition. The US had reportedly offered fifth generation fighter F-35 to India if New Delhi drops its plan to purchase the Russian-made air defense system.
Modern-day drones are capable of flying for a longer duration compared to a fighter aircraft and best-suited for carrying out long-range intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance.
With an overall endurance of over 27 hours, these drones can operate at an altitude of up to 50,000 feet, with a total payload capacity of 1,746 kg including 1,361 kg of external stores.
In modern warfare, the biggest concern for any nation is to reduce the ratio of civilian to combatant deaths and drones have been a huge success in this particular area.
Insulating pilots from the risk of combat, Predator drones saw service in the Gulf and were highly-successful in eliminating threats for the American Armed Forces on the ground.