Indian government sources revealed that the Indian navy rented two American Predator drones from the United States to monitor the Indian Ocean. In mid-November, the two reconnaissance drones arrived in India and began to be operational in the third week of November.
According to India Today on November 26, sources revealed to the media that the two drones can carry out more than 30 hours of surveillance missions and will be used at Rajari Naval Base in Tamil Nadu, southeast India. Sources pointed out that the Indian navy introduced the two drones under a lease agreement with the United States. As part of the deal, the United States has sent a team to India that can guide the operation of the two drones.
According to India Today, India’s Defense Procurement Procedure 2020 and Defense Procurement Manual 2009 allow the Indian army to rent weapons and equipment. Because the responsibility for maintaining equipment lies with the supplier, this helps India “cut spending”.
Sources stressed that the data collected by the Predator drone during flight will be the “exclusive property” of the Indian navy, and the American support personnel will only help on maintenance and technical issues.
India Today pointed out that the Indian army has a strong interest in the U.S. surveillance system in the past few years. At present, the Indian Navy already has nine P-8I Poseidon maritime patrol aircraft, and it is expected to acquire another nine in the next few years. In terms of helicopters, India has purchased 24 MH-60R “Seahawk” offshore multi-purpose helicopters from the United States. The Paper (www.thepaper.cn) earlier reported that the purchase of the MH-60R Seahawk helicopter has taken the Indian Navy a further step towards the goal of building an American aviation anti-submarine system.
In addition, India and the United States have signed agreements for cooperation in the field of defense and national security, including the Basic Exchange and Cooperation Agreement (BECA), the Memorandum of Agreement on Logistics Exchange (LEMOA), the Communications Compatibility and Security Agreement (COMCASA) and the Military Information Security. General Agreement (GSOMIA).
Diplomat magazine reported on November 26 that the United States is unlikely to sell drones to India due to the financial crisis, arms competition and national defense localization. Earlier article of Diplomat pointed out that the U.S. military was worried that its technology might be leaked to Russia after selling the Predator drone to India.