India, US ink deal; drone maintenance to be done in India

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India, US ink deal; drone maintenance to be done in India
India, US ink deal; drone maintenance to be done in India

Significantly augmenting the intelligence, surveillance, and target acquisition capabilities of the Indian armed forces, these cutting-edge drones would be assembled in India 

Several countries using ‘Predator’ drones are likely to come to India for maintenance and overhauling, said former defence secretary Ajay Kumar, describing the defence agreements signed during Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s US visit as “historic”.

A USD 3 billion deal for 31 High Altitude Long Endurance (HALE) UAVs has been signed between India and the US. The Navy will get 15 SeaGuardian drones, while the Army and the Indian Air Force will get eight each of the land version, SkyGuardian.

Significantly augmenting the intelligence, surveillance, and target acquisition capabilities of the Indian armed forces, these cutting-edge drones would be assembled in India, a joint statement by the two countries affirmed.

“When the US sells such advanced equipment, they never agree to any manufacturing outside the country. But in this particular case, it has been said that the Predator drones will be assembled here, and a full MRO hub for these drones will be set up as well,” Kumar said.

Full maintenance, repair, and Overhaul (MRO) means that throughout the entire life cycle of these drones, their maintenance will be done in India, he added.

Countries such as the UK, France, Italy, Japan, Australia, and Spain operate the MQ-9 system. Kumar said while emphasising the significance of the General Atomics MQ-9B High-Altitude Long Endurance (HALE) UAVs.

“Since Predators are a platform that other countries are also using, we can expect that in the future, some of the Predators from other countries will come for maintenance, repair, and overhaul to India,” he said.

The production of aero engines has been an area of deficiency for India, and this agreement will prove to be a significant milestone towards the country’s goal of developing its own jet engines, the former secretary said on an MoU between General Electric and Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL) for the GE414 fighter jet engines.

“As regards the GE414 engines being manufactured in India with large-scale value addition, I think this is a historic moment. Aero-engine is one area where India has had a deficiency in the past, and this is a major landmark in our journey to create our own aero engines, and I think this is therefore truly historic,” Kumar said.

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