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India will acquire 31 MQ-9B SkyGuardian aircraft under a US$3.99bn deal

MQ-9B. Photo: General Atomics

India will acquire more than 30 MQ-9B SkyGuardian aircraft in a US$3.99 billion foreign military sale approved by the US State Department.

India will acquire more than 30 MQ-9B SkyGuardian aircraft in a US$3.99 billion foreign military sale approved by the US State Department.

The US Congress was notified of the possible sale by the Defense Security Cooperation Agency (DSCA) on 1 February.

The government of India has requested to buy 31 MQ-9B SkyGuardian aircraft, 161 embedded global positioning and inertial navigation systems, 35 L3 Rio Grande Communications Intelligence Sensor Suites, 16 M36E9 Hellfire Captive Air Training Missiles, 310 GBU-39B/B laser small diameter bombs, eight GBU-39B/B LSDB Guided Test Vehicles with live fuses, TPE-331-10-GD engines, and M299 Hellfire missile launchers.

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The deal also includes KIV-77 cryptographic appliques, identification friend or foe equipment, KOR-24A small tactical terminals, AN/SSQ-62F, AN/SSQ-53G, and AN/SSQ-36 sonobuoys, common munitions built-in-test reprogramming equipment, GBU-39B/B tactical training rounds, weapons load crew trainers, and reliability assessment vehicles-instrumented, portable pre-flight/post-flight equipment, CCM-700A encryption devices, KI-133 cryptographic units, repair parts and support equipment.

“This proposed sale will support the foreign policy and national security objectives of the United States by helping to strengthen the US-Indian strategic relationship and to improve the security of a major defence partner which continues to be an important force for political stability, peace, and economic progress in the Indo-Pacific and South Asia region,” according to a statement from the DSCA.

“The proposed sale will improve India’s capability to meet current and future threats by enabling unmanned surveillance and reconnaissance patrols in sea lanes of operation.

“India has demonstrated a commitment to modernising its military and will have no difficulty absorbing these articles and services into its armed forces.

“The proposed sale of this equipment and support will not alter the basic military balance in the region.”

General Atomics Aeronautical Systems will be the principal contractor and the proposed sale is not expected to require the assignment of any additional US government or contractor representatives to India.

Late last year, it was announced that Canada would acquire munitions and equipment for MQ-9B SkyGuardian remotely piloted aircraft systems under a possible US$313.4 million foreign military sale approved by the US State Department.

The DSCA notified the US Congress of the possible sale on 15 September 2023

SkyGuardian aircraft are used to delivering real-time situational awareness through surveillance in day or night missions. It’s expected the equipment will be used for monitoring the northern arctic areas.

The Canadian government requested to buy munitions including 219 AGM-114R2 Hellfire II missiles, 18 KMU-572 tail kits for the GBU-38 Joint Direct-Attack Munition and GBU-54 Laser JDAM, 12 Mk82 500-pound general purpose bombs, six Mk82 filled inert bombs, M299 Hellfire launchers and training missiles.

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