As tensions along the Indo-China border are on the rise, India is in a rapid process of acquiring advanced military weapons. After the White House eased export restrictions on UAVs, India has sent a ‘request letter’ for the procurement of six Predator-B drones. Apart from the Predator drones, India also has plans of purchasing six P-8I aircraft. Additionally, it has already bought the S-400 Surface to Air Missile system from Russia.

The Predator Drone: An Asset For Protecting Borders

The Predator-B drone, also known as the MQ-9 Reaper, is a long-endurance armed drone. It is the drone that was used by the US to assassinate the Iranian General. The Predator drone is an all-in-one drone. It not only performs reconnaissance and surveillance but can also be equipped with 4 Hellfire missiles and two 500-pound laser-guided bombs.

predator drones india
The Predator-B drone by General Atomics

The Indian Army currently uses the Israeli Heron UAV and the in-house developed Rustom drone by the DRDO. While both these drones are categorized as Medium-Altitude-Long-Endurance (MALE), the Predator-B would be a massive upgrade. The White House in a press release stated, “The President has decided to invoke our national discretion to treat a carefully selected subset of missile technology control regime category I unmanned aerial systems (UAS), which cannot travel faster than 800 kmph as category II… This will increase our national security by improving the capabilities of our partners and increase our economic security by opening the expanding UAV market.” This relaxation of policy will help buyers like India get around the “strong presumption of denial” clause of the MCTR (Missile Technology Control Regime).

The Predator drone is a crucial defense asset of the US. The drone actively patrols the Southern border of the US. In more recent developments, a Predator drone was flown over the city of Minneapolis to surveil BLM protestors. China on the other hand has been using the Wing Loong II drone. Moreover, to protect the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC), China is reportedly supplying 4 Wing Loong II drones to Pakistan. This has prompted India to fast-track its acquisition of the Predator drones. Meanwhile, the DRDO (Defense Research and Development Organization) has plans to release a MALE Rustom drone prototype at the end of 2020.