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“The United States approved the sale of the armed drones to India. We have offered integrated air and missile defense technology to India,” according to a senior White House official. The US official, who spoke with news agency PTI on the condition of anonymity, did not reveal when the sale of the armed drones to India might take place.
The US alleged move came in the aftermath of the February 14 Pulwama terrorist attack in which 40 Indian soldiers were killed. Another reason is the increasing militarization and assertiveness of China in the Indo-Pacific region.
During the June 2017 meeting between Prime Minister Narendra Modi and President Donald Trump, the US had agreed to sell surveillance version of the Guardian drones to India.
India was the first non-treaty partner to be offered a Missile Technology Control Regime or MTCR Category-1 Unmanned Aerial System – the Sea Guardian UAS manufactured by General Atomics, according to ndtv.com.
While the deal is yet to see the light of day, the US in recent months informed New Delhi about its decision to sell armed version of the Guardian drones. The deal, if it happens, could be in the range of over USD 2.5 billion, a defense industry source told PTI.
The US has also offered its integrated defense missile capabilities to India. The offer is said to be about two of the US latest systems: Terminal High Altitude Area Defense system (THAAD), which is highly effective when used against long-range ballistic missiles and Patriot Missile defense system.
India, which has already signed an agreement with Russia to purchase S-400 missile defense system, is yet to respond to the American offer.
In a recent fact sheet on “US Security Cooperation with India”, the US State Department joined the White House.
In 2016, the US designated India as a Major Defense Partner.
At present, India does not have armed drones or unmanned aerial vehicles that can fire missiles at desired targets and return to the base, reports tribuneindia.com. The Indian armed forces are looking for Predator drones — both the armed version and for surveillance. These will add to India’s maritime surveillance capabilities in the Indian Ocean and also the ability to hit targets at land, in the air and at the sea.