HomeIndian NavyIndian Navy to extend lease of 2 MQ-9 RPAs; 18 more MQ-9...

Indian Navy to extend lease of 2 MQ-9 RPAs; 18 more MQ-9 RPAs deal to be on PM Modi’s agenda in the upcoming US visit

Source : Indian Defence Analysis

Indian Navy MQ-9A Drones complete 10,000 flight hours

Indian Navy to extend lease of 2 MQ-9 RPAs; 18 more MQ-9 RPAs deal to be on PM Modi’s agenda in the upcoming US visit

In November 2020, Indian Navy had leased two MQ-9 UAVs to enhance surveillance over the Indian Ocean Region (IOR). The UAV was initially leased for a year but has been extended subsequently. The lease of these drones is set to expire in January 2024 and Indian Navy is further looking to extend its lease.

Importance of MQ-9A RPA

Since its induction, these RPAs has proven to be great assets. Due to their extremely high endurance, these drones provide real time domain awareness from the eastern board of Africa and Gulf of Aden to Sunda Straits in Indonesia and beyond. The leased drones were also used to survey the Chinese build-up all along the LAC after the May 2020 aggression by the PLA in East Ladakh.

The Indian Navy had used MQ-9 drones and the Boeing P-8I multi-mission aircraft to scan the entire 3,044km Line of Actual Control with China to understand the Chinese build-up all along the LAC. This has given the Indian military a clear idea of the Chinese armyโ€™s plans and capabilities. On November 22, 2022, the two MQ-9A RPA that is on lease has completed its 10,000-flight hour in exactly two years, with the maiden flight of MQ-9A taking place on November 21, 2020.

The armed forces are impressed with the MQ-9โ€™s over-the-horizon ISR support for surface troops and Indian warships, as well as the platformโ€™s remarkable endurance and operational availability.

Currently, Indian Navy uses MQ RPA for maritime surveillance from the Gulf of Aden to the Sunda Strait in Indonesia. The MQ-9As have helped the Indian Navy to cover over 14 million square miles of operating area. With its wide range of sensors, high endurance and its low operating costs, the MQ-9 can prove to be a complementary system for navies and air forces operating as maritime patrol aircraft.

Though some national security planners feel the Predator-armed drone is prohibitively expensive and find US-made manned Boeing P 8I aircraft sufficient for the job, the Indian military wants a mix of both armed and surveillance drones for country-specific missions. The operational cost of MQ-9 RPA is also much less compared to P-8I.

On 17th May 2023, INAS 312 squadron operating P8I aircraft based at Arakkonam clocks 40,000 hrs as the aircraft complete a decade of diverse Naval Operations. At the same time 2 MQ-9 UAVs have accumulated more than 10,000 flights hours in just 2 years.

Additional MQ-9 Procurement

India and US have been negotiating for the deal for additional MQ-9B armed drones for almost six years. India is the only non-NATO country cleared for the acquisition of this platform. The recent reports reveals that Indian Armed forces have pruned the requirement of 30 MQ-9 RPAs to 18 with each services getting 6 RPAs.

Local assembly of MQ-9 UAV

India has negotiated for the local assembly of the MQ 9 Remotely Piloted Aircraft (RPA). Indian Navy chief has told that at least 60% of the quantity of the aircraft proposed for procurement in India will be manufactured in India. For local manufacturing, General Atomics has partnered Bharat Forge to produce main landing gear components, sub-assemblies and assemblies for RPA.

As a part of MQ-9 deal, India is also looking for transfer of certain niche technology to DRDO required for indigenous design & development of HALE RPAS.

All eyes are now on the upcoming visit of Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi to the United States to finalize the long-pending deal. Indian Navy to extend lease of 2 MQ-9 RPAs; 18 more MQ-9 RPAs deal to be on PM Modi’s agenda in the upcoming US visit Indian Navy to extend lease of 2 MQ-9 RPAs; 18 more MQ-9 RPAs deal to be on PM Modi’s agenda in the upcoming US visit Indian Navy to extend lease of 2 MQ-9 RPAs; 18 more MQ-9 RPAs deal to be on PM Modi’s agenda in the upcoming US visit Indian Navy to extend lease of 2 MQ-9 RPAs; 18 more MQ-9 RPAs deal to be on PM Modi’s agenda in the upcoming US visit Indian Navy to extend lease of 2 MQ-9 RPAs; 18 more MQ-9 RPAs deal to be on PM Modi’s agenda in the upcoming US visit Indian Navy to extend lease of 2 MQ-9 RPAs; 18 more MQ-9 RPAs deal to be on PM Modi’s agenda in the upcoming US visit Indian Navy to extend lease of 2 MQ-9 RPAs; 18 more MQ-9 RPAs deal to be on PM Modi’s agenda in the upcoming US visit IgMp

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