India have been offered the armed version of Guardian unmanned drones by the United States, the acquisition of which has been under discussion for almost a year now.India is the only third country and the first non-NATO member country for this offer.
Technicalbriefings have taken place and discussion are now underway for determining thenumber of drones that India would like to purchase.
Theonly other countries offered the armed drones are the United Kingdom and Italy.Both of them are the NATO partners of the US.
Atfirst India was offered General Atomics' unarmed MQ-9 Guardian drones formaritime surveillance and approved the sale of 22 to the country. The offer hasbeen made during the Prime Minister Narendra Modi's visit to Washington in 2017for his first meeting with US President Donald Trump.
ButIndia was more interested in armed version of the drone — Predator-B — whichthe United States agreed to "about a year ago", as had been reported by newsagencies.
However,there is no progress in the other offers made by the US regarding Terminal HighAltitude Area Defence and Patriot-3 missile defence systems to dissuade Indiafrom purchasing Russian S-400s.
Indianpurchases of US defence materials have gone up from zero in 2008to $15 billion(1500 crores) in 2019. Recent buys include MH-60RSeahawk helicopters ($2.6 billion,260 crore in Indian value), Apachehelicopters ($2.3 billion,230 crore in Indian value), P-8I maritime patrolaircraft ($3 billion,300 crore in Indian value), and M777 howitzers($737 million,73.7 crore in Indian value), according to the statedepartment.
Indiawas the first non-treaty partner to be offered a MTCR Category-1 UnmannedAerial System – the Sea Guardian UAS manufactured by General Atomics. Indiaasked for armed drones and now discussions are now going on for itsacquisition.