India has sought high-tech multi-mission Predator drones from the US to protect its maritime assets, especially in the Indian Ocean.India is all set to acquire its first missile-armed unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) from the US. The Indian Air Force has for years said it needs armed drones – weapon systems.The Predator Guardian platform provides high-altitude wide-area long-endurance maritime ISR capability. This is New Delhi’s efforts to fast-track its goal to secure the country’s maritime assets in particular in the Indian Ocean and detect any untoward intrusion — like the one during the 26/11 Mumbai terror attack — on a real-time basis.
The Predator ‘Guardian’ platform would help in protection and vigilance of the maritime assets in the Indian Ocean and both, in the east and west coast. Flying at an altitude of 50,000 feet, these drones have the capacity to fly non-stop for more than 24 hours and monitor the movement of objects as small as a football on a real-time basis, sources said.The deal would be the first such purchase by a country that is not a member of the NATO alliance.
In the past, the US has refused to provide armed Predator drones to India, which have been used in both Afghanistan and Pakistan, for fear that New Delhi would turn the weapons against the Pakistanis at a time when Washington sought robust cooperation in the fight against Al Qaeda.
India may also discuss the purchase of 22 unarmed MQ-9 Predators.