MOD BLAMES MEDIA reports on price and claims that the cost of the drone deal with the US has not yet been finalised.

World News

The cost and specific terms of India’s purchase of 31 MQ-9B long-endurance drones from the US have not been decided, and before the procurement is completed, the country will look at the “best price” that the manufacturer is willing to offer to other countries, the defence ministry stated on Sunday, refuting claims made in a section of social media about the price and the acquisition process. It was mentioned that the projected cost of USD 3,072 million (one million=10 lakh) as provided by the US government was recorded in the Acceptance of Necessity (AoN) accorded to the acquisition by the Defence Acquisition Council (DAC), adding that the price will be reduced after policy permission from Washington is received.

On June 15, the DAC under the direction of Defence Minister Rajnath Singh gave its first permission, or AoN, for the purchase of 31 MQ-9B High Altitude Long Endurance (HALE) drones from the US under the Foreign Military Sale (FMS) process.

The AON specified how many unmanned aerial vehicles and related equipment needed to be purchased.

During the high-profile visit to Washington made by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, India and the US finalised their drone agreement.

In a statement, the defence ministry labelled as “speculative” and spreading with “ulterior motives” the social media allegations regarding the cost and the circumstances of the drones’ purchase.

“These are unwarranted, motivated by deception, and intended to thwart the process of due acquisition. The purchase’s price and other terms and circumstances are still up for negotiation, the statement stated.

“In this regard, all are requested not to spread fake news/misinformation which can have a serious impact on the morale of the armed forces and adversely impact the acquisition process,” the statement continued.

The three military are buying Sea Guardian drones because they can perform a range of tasks, such as maritime surveillance, anti-submarine warfare, and over-the-horizon targeting.

The Indian Air Force and the Army will each receive eight Sky Guardian drones, while the Navy will receive fifteen Sea Guardian drones.

The ministry stated that the procurement process would be done in accordance with the established system and that it will compare the cost of purchasing the drones with the “best price” made available to other nations by manufacturer General Atomics (GA).

“The AoN took note of the US government’s anticipated cost of $3,072 million. However, with the US Government’s policy approval, the price would be negotiated, it stated.

The Ministry of Defence (MoD) will contrast the acquisition costs with General Atomics’ (GA) best price to other nations. The procurement is ongoing and will be completed in accordance with the established protocol, it was said.

According to the ministry, a Letter of Request (LOR) would be made to the US government under the Foreign Military Sale (FMS) channel, outlining the equipment needed by the three services as well as the terms of the procurement.

According to the statement, “Based on the LOR, the US government and MoD will finalise the Letter of Offer and Acceptance (LOA), where details of the equipment and procurement terms will be negotiated and finalised in accordance with the FMS programme and the price and terms offered by the US government and GA to other countries.”

The high-altitude long-endurance (HALE) drones can carry four Hellfire missiles and about 450 kg of explosives, and they can stay in the air for more than 35 hours.

General Atomics leased two MQ-9B Sea Guardian drones to the Indian Navy in 2020 for a year of monitoring in the Indian Ocean. After that, the lease’s term was extended.


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