Why India wants Predator Avenger Drones from U.S.A?
India was designated a major defense partner of the US in June. Within weeks of that designation, after Prime Minister Narendra Modi met US President Barack Obama at the White House , the Indian Navy had sent an official letter of request (LoR) . The request was sent to the department of defense towards purchase of 22 high-tech multi-mission Predator C Avenger unmanned aerial vehicle-Wikipedia) the unmanned aircraft is manufactured by General Atomics Aeronautical Systems – Wikipedia
This is the first major request of arms sale purchase by India after Obama designated New Delhi as a major strategic defense partner. The US government has not made a formal decision on it yet, but is believed to have started an inter agency process on the Indian request.
India was not part of Missile Technology Control Regime earlier which is a pre requisite for getting these drones. The Missile Technology Control Regime (MTCR) is a multilateral export control regime. It is an informal and voluntary partnership among 35 countries to prevent the proliferation of missile and unmanned aerial vehicle technology capable of carrying above 500 kg payload for more than 300 km.
India has recently become part of the Missile Technology Control Regime with USA’s backing ,opening the doors for purchase of Predator drones.
India need these drones to meet the challenges posed by China and Pakistan. Here are the specifics:
1. There has been increased Chinese activities in the Indian ocean region.China has been very aggressive in its posturing in recent past. India wants to buy these drones to monitor the presence of Chinese submarines and warships in Indian Ocean.
2. New Delhi could use these to monitor the Indo Pakistan border region and can also use it to hunt militants across Pakistan.
Unlike aircrafts the drones have a very big advantage , that is ,it has no pilots.
Now India’s enemy will know that they can be struck from the air without India thinking too much that there would be a pilot who may get shot down. This sends a strong deterrent signal.
The major capabilities of the drones are as follows:
1. Flying at an altitude of 50,000 feet, these drones have the capacity to fly non-stop for about 24 hours and monitor the movement of objects as small as a football on a real time basis.
2. It is controlled remotely by 2 ground control crews. It has a max speed of 740 km/hr.
3. The Predator C Avenger is an armed drone and is equipped with different air-to-air and air-to-ground missiles including Hellfire missiles. It can carry weapons in internal bay as well as in 6 external hard points.
4. It can take to the skies in any weather condition, day/night and strike pre-designated targets with pin-point accuracy.
5. Unlike the previous MQ-1 Predator and MQ-9 Reaper, it is powered by a turbofan engine and its design includes stealth features such as internal weapons storage, and an S-shaped exhaust for a reduced infrared signature and radar signature
6. The drone can provide world-class Intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance (ISR) capability to India, which will include both high-definition radar and electro-optical/infrared (EO/IR) coverage along our borders.
PROVEN COMBAT RECORD:
The US has successfully deployed different versions of Predator drones in Afghanistan and Iraq.
Here are some of the examples:
1. According to USA government figures, between 2009 and 31 December 2015, USA has launched 473 strikes, mostly with drones, that killed between what it said were 2,372 and 2,581 terrorist “combatants”.
2. Mullah Akhtar Mansoor taliban leader was killed in Pakistan after his car attacked by several US drones.
3. The leader of the Pakistani Taliban, Hakimullah Mehsud, was also killed in a US drone strike in 2013.
4. The Islamic State on January 19, 2016, admitted that its notorious executioner Jihadi John was killed in an American drone strike on November 12, 2015.
Currently, India operates a variety of drones, from hand-launched models to Israeli-origin Herons. With the exception of the Harpy that can be used as a suicide bomber since it self-destructs on impact with a chosen target, all are battlefield and theatre surveillance crafts. Rustom 2 armed drone being developed by DRDO still has a long way to go before it becomes operational.