IS CONGRESS SEEKING A RAFALE WITH THE ACQUISITION OF REAPER DRONES?

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According to the sources, the Congress looks to be acting in Beijing’s best interests and does not want India to have a competitive advantage over China. The sources claimed that China attempted to acquire the same drones last year but failed.

The Ministry of Defence said on Sunday that the Defence Acquisition Council (DAC) had granted the Acceptance of Necessity (AoN) for the purchase of 31 MQ-9B Reaper drones through the Foreign Military Sale (FMS) route from the United States on June 15th, 2023. 16 Sky Guardian and 15 Sea Guardian make up the 31 High Altitude Long Endurance (HALE) drones with Remotely Piloted Aircraft Systems (RPAS).

Notably, the agreement between the two nations specified how many unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) and related equipment were to be purchased. The transaction also includes the transfer of technology used in the production of the drones. According to sources, 21 of the 31 drones that India will purchase from the US would be produced there on the basis of knowledge transfer. This typically results in added benefits for the nation’s defence industrial industry.

During the prime minister’s visit to the US, sources claim that only a memorandum of understanding (MOU) was signed, and the purchase price has not yet been determined. The US government has merely offered an indicative price, which is up for discussion. After talks, the final price will be determined.

Refuting the claims of the Congress that the Indian government is over paying for the drones, the sources say that these political claims have no facts in them. “This is a government to government deal and that is why there is no place to put an objection. It is an absolutely transparent deal. The ministry has said that the price will be negotiated once policy approval of the US government is received, following which the procurement of the drones would be completed as per the laid down procedure.”

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