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India is looking to acquire a few Predator drones from the US, Defense News reports. Just days after India Prime Minister Narendra Modi visited Washington, and with President Obama’s backing India entered the Missile Technology Control Regime, New Delhi has made overtures to buy Predator drones from US-based General Atomics through the Foreign Military Sales (FMS) program.
An official within the Indian Ministry of Defence (MoD) said that on 17 June, a Letter of Request (LoR) for the purchase of 22 drones was issued to the defence contractor.
An Indian Navy official elaborated that his branch wants to use the drone, which can fly at altitudes of over 15,000m, for maritime surveillance over the India Ocean.
Over the last ten year, India has used the FMS program to buy weapons to the tune of $10bn. Now, however, New Delhi wishes to advance the relationship from mere acquisition to co-development and co-production.
Now, Washington and New Delhi have set up the Defence Trade and Technology Initiative (DTTI) to achieve this end. DTTI functions as a forum aimed at identifying and proposing joint projects for the “Make in India” requirements of the Indian government.
Already under consideration is the transfer of technology for the proposed Indian aircraft carrier, as well as sharing of information on engine technology. An India MoD official said that there are positive signs regarding at least the first of the ventures.
“The first phase of carrier cooperation has begun during Prime Minister Modi’s visit to Washington,” said the official, requesting anonymity to discuss the program. “The information exchange agreement that was concluded will allow now for consulting contracts relating to carrier design. So, carrier cooperation is well on its way. I am hopeful that the project on jet engine technology cooperation will be concluded this summer.”