The General Atomics MQ-9 Reaper Drone, perhaps the most lethal combat unmanned combat aerial vehicle (UCAV) in the US military’s arsenal, is on its way to India. The MQ-9 Reaper, also known as Predator B, has taken out a number of high-profile targets in the Middle East.
As previously reported by EurAsian Times, India has begun acquiring Russia’s most powerful S-400 missile defence system, with the full delivery of 36 French Rafale planes scheduled in April 2021.
The Indian armed services are currently using two MQ-9B SeaGuardian drones leased from the United States. New Delhi is also pursuing a deal to buy 30 more, with 10 going to each of the Indian Army, Navy, and Air Force.
Defense Secretary Ajay Kumar presided over a meeting of India’s Defence Procurement Board (DPB) on November 15. And it’s expected that additional debate will be needed before a decision on these drones is made.
The proposal will be considered by the Defence Acquisition Council (DAC), which is chaired by India’s Defense Minister Rajnath Singh, once it has been cleared by the DPB. If the plan is approved at the Defense Ministry level, it will be forwarded to the Prime Minister’s Cabinet Committee on Security.
The MQ-9 Reaper is a deadly drone.
Both remotely controlled and autonomous missions are possible with the MQ-9 Reaper. The MQ-9 is a hunter-killer drone that succeeds the MQ-1 Predator, which was primarily employed for Intelligence, Reconnaissance, and Surveillance (IRS).
It’s made for long-distance travel and high altitudes. Because of its long loiter time, wide-range sensors, multi-mode communications suite, and precise weaponry, it has a unique capability to perform strike, coordination, and reconnaissance against high-value, transitory, and time-sensitive targets.
According to The EurAsian Times, the MQ-9 Reaper drone has an external weapons payload capacity of over one tonne, allowing it to carry up to four Hellfire missiles and two 227-kilogram bombs on the same flight.
The Reaper is outfitted with a fully operational system that includes multiple sensor/weapon-armed aircraft, a ground control station, the Predator Primary Satellite Link, spare equipment, and operations and maintenance personnel.
It is capable of performing a range of missions, including ISR, close air support, combat search and rescue, precision strike, buddy-laser, convoy/raid overwatch, route clearing, target development, and terminal air guiding, and may be deployed for up to 24 hours.
It is larger and more powerful than the Predator, and it is designed to kill or disable time-sensitive targets with precision and persistence. According to the US Department of Defense, the ‘M’ stands for multi-role and the ‘Q’ stands for remotely piloted aircraft system. The ‘9’ indicates that it is the ninth in a series of remotely piloted aircraft systems.
India’s Purchase of MQ-9 Reaper Drones
Despite the fact that the MQ-9 Reaper has only been delivered to NATO partners, India has gained the confidence to purchase the drones. In 2016, the United States designated India as a Major Defense Partner, and India signed all four fundamental agreements with it, making it eligible for the acquisition.
The main necessity for using the Reaper is the transfer of sensitive military technology, which is ensured by the agreements.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi met General Atomics CEO Vivek Lall during his September visit to the United States. According to PTI, the latter stated that a “specific drone centre can be developed in India to assist the entire drone ecosystem.”
Because India is a cornerstone of America’s Indo-Pacific policy in Asia, it is a natural candidate for the Reaper deal. With China’s adventurism in the South China Sea and its rising presence in the Indian Ocean Region, arming India with cutting-edge technology is becoming increasingly important. India would be able to conduct IRS operations and maintain vigilance over its waters thanks to the Reapers.
With China regularly providing the Pakistan military with the latest guns and equipment, India has been making concerted efforts to upgrade its Navy and strengthen its maritime presence.
When utilised alongside the P-8I maritime patrol aircraft, which is also an American-made platform, the Reaper drones are projected to improve the Indian Navy’s capability.
India will be able to conduct surveillance and strike hostile ships and other assets that constitute a security threat using the Reaper. According to military observers, the Reapers will be nothing short of a game-changer for India.