MQ-9B Predator Drones: 5 Facts About India's Latest Defense Acquisition

The plan is to deploy 15 drones to the Indian Navy and 8 each to the Army and Air Force from the US.

MQ-9B Predator Drones: 5 Facts About India's Latest Defense Acquisition

The MQ-9B Predator drone is a variant of the MQ-9 "Reaper"

The US has given the green light for a potential sale of 31 MQ-9B Predator drones to India. Valued at approximately $3.99 billion, this sale encompasses 170 AGM-114R Hellfire missiles, 310 GBU-39B/B laser small-diameter bombs, and 161 embedded global positioning and inertial navigation systems.

The distribution plan includes deploying 15 drones with the Indian Navy, while the Army and Air Force will each receive 8 high-altitude long-endurance drones from the US. 

The Defense Security Cooperation Agency said in a press release, “The proposed sale will improve India's capability to meet current and future threats by enabling unmanned surveillance and reconnaissance patrols in sea lanes of operation. India has demonstrated a commitment to modernising its military and will have no difficulty absorbing these articles and services into its armed forces.”

Here are some facts on MQ-9B Predator drones:

  1. The MQ-9B Predator drone is a variant of the MQ-9 "Reaper" developed by General Atomics Aeronautical Systems (GA-ASI), with its primary purpose being for the United States Air Force (USAF).

  2. These drones are categorised as high-altitude, long-endurance UAVs, designed for extended flight durations at altitudes exceeding 40,000 feet. With a maximum endurance of 40 hours, they provide a reliable platform for prolonged surveillance.

  3. The MQ-9B is armed with strike missiles, allowing it to engage and eliminate enemy targets with high precision. This feature enhances its effectiveness in various roles, including land and maritime surveillance, anti-submarine warfare, anti-surface warfare, electronic warfare, and expeditionary missions.

  4.  The MQ-9B drone has two variants - SkyGuardian and SeaGuardian. The latter has been in operation by the Indian Navy since 2020.

  5. The MQ-9B Predator is capable of automatic take-offs and landings, providing operational flexibility. Moreover, it can safely integrate into civil airspace, enabling joint forces and civil authorities to obtain real-time situational awareness in the maritime domain, day or night. The drone's impressive carrying capacity of up to 5,670 kg and a fuel capacity of 2,721 kg also enhances its operational capabilities.