On November 25, 2020, Indian Navy inducted two ‘MQ-9B Sea Guardian’ unarmed drones (Unmanned Aerial Vehicles – UAV) procured from the United States (U.S.) on lease. MQ-9B Sea Guardian became the first defence hardware to be procured on lease under the new Defence Acquisition Procedure (DAP) 2020.
The drones have been leased from an American firm, General Atomics for a period of 1 year for surveillance in the Indian Ocean Region (IOR).
Objective-The drone will help in carrying out surveillance in the Indian Ocean Region.
i.The drones will be flown by Indian Navy personnel and all the data acquired by the Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV) will be the sole property of India.
ii.The Original Equipment Manufacturer (OEM) i.e General Atomics will support the maintenance of the drones.
iii.The drones will be based at Naval Air Station in Rajali, Arakkonam, Tamil Nadu.
iv.The drones can also be deployed for surveillance along India’s land borders along China such as Ladakh.
Note – Already the Navy’s P8I Poseidon aircraft have been deployed in Ladakh.
MQ-9B Sea Guardian:
i.MQ-9B Sea Guardian is a maritime variant of Predator MQ-9 UAV.
ii.It has a maximum endurance of 40 hours and a maximum flying altitude of 40, 000 feet.
iii.It is equipped with a 3600 maritime surveillance radar and an optional multimode maritime surface search radar.
iv.It is capable of performing over-the-horizon long-endurance, medium-altitude Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance (ISR) missions.
Points to be noted:
i.The navy currently operates a mix of Israeli-built Heron and Searcher UAVs for intelligence-gathering and surveillance.
ii.It has a vast area of responsibility in the IOR spanning millions of square kilometres, with warships deployed from as far as the Persian Gulf to the Strait of Malacca and northern Bay of Bengal to the southeast coast of Africa.
iii.India’s exclusive economic zone alone measures 2.4 million square kilometres, which is also the navy’s responsibility.
India plans to procure 10 Unmanned Aerial vehicles (UAV) for each Service (Army, Navy & Air Force) from the U.S., including armed drones .
Recent Related News:
i.On September 30, 2020 Jiwesh Nandan, additional secretary, Ministry of Defence commissioned the Indian Coast Guard(ICG) Ship Kanaklata Barua, the last in the series of 5 Fast Patrol Vessels (FPVs) via video conferencing at Kolkata, West Bengal.
About General Atomics:
Chairman & Chief Executive Officer (CEO) – Neal Blue
Headquarters – San Diego, California, United States