New Delhi: The Central government is now considering the acquisition of an indigenous long-range unmanned aerial vehicle after putting the American predator drone deal on hold due to a push for the Make in India initiative.

Armed with strike capabilities, the Indo-Israeli long-range armed UAV is being developed by a private Indian firm in partnership with an Israeli defence manufacturer.

The American predator drone deal was put on hold and a committee headed by a Lieutenant General was asked to review the entire deal which was coming out to be very expensive at around USD 4.5 billion for 30 drones.

“With the deal not moving ahead and almost all import cases being put on hold, we are now considering an armed UAV developed by an Indian private defence firm along with an Israeli defence manufacturer,” top government sources told ANI.

India was planning to acquire 30 American Predator high-altitude long-endurance drones equipped with strike capability, including missiles, which were to be equally distributed among the three services.

All three services have requirements for these armed drones which can be used for surveillance as well as attacking enemy targets from standoff distances.

Almost all the defence deals planned through the import route had either been scrapped or put on hold by the Defence Ministry on the directions of the Prime Minister’s Office in favour of indigenous weapon systems.

India currently operating two predator drones which were hired on lease from an American firm and they have been helping the Navy to keep track of activities in the Indian Ocean Region.

India has acquired 12 American P-8I anti-submarine warfare and surveillance planes for keeping an eye on the IOR and was working on getting six more planes.

However, after the government’s instructions on import programmes, the government would soon decide on the project too shortly.

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