OAN’s Roy Francis
1:45 PM – Thursday, June 22, 2023
An agreement which would have India buy 31 Reaper drones from the United States is set to be signed during Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s first State trip .
Modi, who will be making his trip from June 21st until June 24th, will be joined by President Joe Biden to announce the deal between the two nations.
The deal, in which India will acquire 31 General Atomics MQ-9 “Reaper” armed drones, was approved on June 15th by India’s Ministry of Defense under a government-to-government framework. The drones will reportedly cost around $3 billion.
The drones will help New Delhi strengthen its overall surveillance apparatus along the Line of Actual Control (LAC) and the Indian Ocean, and it will be operated by the country’s three military branches, the Army, Navy, and Air Force.
The deal was agreed to by the U.S. in order to draw India away from the influence of Russia. Modi also said that the deal will open a “new chapter” in the strategic relationship between the two countries.
India has maintained a non-aligned foreign policy, however, due to the rising tensions along its 3,500 km-long border with China, it has moved closer to the U.S. and is more open to deals that would increase coordination between the two nations.
The MQ-9 reaper drone, made by General Atomics, is able to carry up to 500% more payload in comparison to the earlier MQ-1, which involves eight laser-guided Air-to-Ground 114 Hellfire Missiles. The drone is able to operate up to 50,000 feet and has a payload capacity of 3,850 with an endurance of 27 hours at speeds of up to 240 KTAS (knots true airspeed).
The drone is equipped to perform strike, coordination, or reconnaissance missions and is primarily used in time-sensitive and high-value target missions.
A second deal was also agreed to which will have General Electric co-produce fighter jet engines in India, which the Biden administration boasted was a “trailblazing initiative.”
Biden has received criticism for his willingness to grant Modi a state visit due to the fact that Indian democracy is under increasing threat from a squeeze on free expression and the incitement of violence against Christians.
According to the Financial Times, U.S. officials said that “Biden will approach discussion about human rights with a ‘degree of humility,’ and after the meeting had concluded, Biden had said that he had a ‘good discussion’ with Modi about ‘democratic values.’”
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