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India-US Drone Deal for 31 MQ-9B Drones

India-US Drone Deal

  • The possible sale of 31 MQ-9B high altitude long endurance armed Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAV) from U.S. company General Atomics to India has progressed to the next stage after a 30-day Congressional notification period concluded.
  • The deal, announced during Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s State visit to Washington DC in June last year, is estimated at $3.99 billion.

Next Steps for India-US Drone Deal

  • Following the conclusion of the Congressional review, the parties involved are expected to agree upon and sign a Letter of Offer and Acceptance (LOA).
  • The U.S. State Department official stated that procurement decisions and timelines are now in the hands of the Government of India.
  • With general elections looming in India, it is possible that further steps in the procurement process will be put on hold until May, when the poll results are expected.


  • The sale faced difficulties in January in the U.S. Congress amid allegations of Indian government agents’ involvement in a plot to kill Khalistani separatist Gurpatwant Singh Pannun, a U.S. citizen, on American soil.
  • Senator Ben Cardin, head of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, gave approval for the deal to progress after receiving assurances from the Biden-led administration that India would investigate the alleged plot and cooperate with the U.S. investigation.

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About MQ-9B Drones

  • The MQ-9B is a version of the MQ-9 “Reaper”, designed for both remote and autonomous flight capabilities.
  • These drones are equipped for high-altitude, long-duration missions, and armed with precision strike missiles.
  • Developed by General Atomics Aeronautical Systems for the U.S. Air Force.

India-US Drone Deal for 31 MQ-9B Drones_4.1


  • Includes two main models: SkyGuardian and SeaGuardian.
  • The Indian Navy has been utilising the MQ-9B SeaGuardian since 2020.
  • Developed by: General Atomics Aeronautical Systems (GA-ASI), primarily for the United States Air Force (USAF).

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