US “considering” Indian request for armed UAVs
The United States is “considering” India’s request for armed UAVs, according to a senior American official, “to help it strengthen the country’s defence capabilities”. Early this year, the IAF had reportedly requested the US Government for General Atomics Predator C Avenger aircraft, it being understood that IAF would need 80 to 100 such systems. This is in addition to the requirement for 22 unarmed Guardian UAVs, which would add the Indian Navy’s surveillance capabilities in the strategic Indian Ocean region.
The Obama Administration had designated India as a major defence partner and the Trump Administration has accelerated the process of considering Indian requests. “The US Navy and the Indian Navy have been cooperating for many years on counter piracy efforts, on ensuring freedom of navigation in the Indian Ocean and the and Red Sea and the Persian Gulf,” according to a US defence official.
Earlier, US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson had said that in keeping with India’s status as a major defence partner and their mutual interest in expanding maritime cooperation, the Trump administration had offered a range of defence options for India’s consideration, including the Guardian UAV.“We value the role India can play in global security and stability and are prepared to ensure they have even greater capabilities,” Mr. Tillerson said and added that “the proposals the US has put forward, including for Guardian UAVs, aircraft carrier technologies, the Future Vertical Lift programme, and F-18 and F-16 fighter aircraft, are all potential game changers for our commercial and defence cooperation.”