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U.S. manufacturer General Atomics Aeronautical Systems (GA-ASI) president, David Alexander, revealed recently that a foreign nation is interested in buying a “quantity” of 90 Predator C Avenger unmanned aircrafts. The prospect of the U.S. government approving such a sale, perhaps to India, improved when India became the 35th and latest country to gain entry to the Missile Technology Control Regime, a missile non-proliferation pact, in June 2016. More recently, the U.S. and Indian governments have discussed the sale of 22 General Atomics MQ-9B Sea Guardians the Indian Navy seeks for maritime surveillance.
Another role GA-ASI is exploring would see the MQ-9B Sea Guardian participate in manned-unmanned teaming with the Boeing P-8A Poseidon maritime patrol aircraft to expand the latter’s anti-submarine warfare capability.
With 40 hours of endurance, the manufacturer argues, the Sea Guardian could provide persistent monitoring of a sonobuoy field and relay signals from the sensors to a ground station or another aircraft. This would complement, not compete against, Northrop Grumman’s MQ-4C Triton unmanned aircraft, which serves more of a force protection function in coordination with the Poseidon, GA-ASI says.
Robert Walker, GA-ASI senior director of strategic development, said that any sale of 90 Avengers is not imminent. “This opportunity is still in the process of being developed and there’s still quite a lot of work that needs to be done to refine and shape the requirements,” he told ainonline.com.