Indian Air Force Updates

India to procure MQ-9 Predator Drones


From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: Predator Drones

Mains level: Not Much



Central Idea

  • The Defence Acquisition Council (DAC) has approved the procurement of armed Predator Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs) at the cost of over $3 billion.
  • The UAVs will be procured from General Atomics Aeronautical Systems (GA-ASI), a United States-based aeronautics company.

Predator Drones: An Overview


  • The Predator UAV, manufactured by GA-ASI, is known as the MQ-9.
  • It has an endurance of over 27 hours, speeds of 240 KTAS, and can operate up to 50,000 feet.
  • It has a payload capacity of 3,850 pounds (1,746 kilograms) and can carry external stores of up to 3,000 pounds (1,361 kilograms).

Benefits and Capabilities of the MQ-9 UAV

  • The MQ-9 UAV has a higher payload capacity and horsepower compared to its predecessor, the MQ-1 Predator.
  • It provides long endurance, persistent surveillance, and strike capability for the warfighter.
  • The maritime variant of the MQ-9 UAV, known as Sea Guardian, has an endurance of over 30 hours.

Enhancing Indian Armed Forces’ Capabilities

  • The procurement of MQ-9 UAVs will enhance the Indian Armed Forces’ Intelligence-Surveillance-Reconnaissance (ISR) capabilities.
  • These high-altitude, long-endurance drones will be able to carry out intelligence collection, strike strategic targets in mountains and maritime domains, and support various military operations.
  • Indian Armed Forces are expected to receive a total of 31 MQ-9s, with 15 for the Navy and eight each for the Army and the Indian Air Force (IAF).

Previous Use of MQ-9 UAVs by India

  • In the aftermath of the Galwan Valley clashes in 2020, the Indian Navy had leased two MQ-9 UAVs, and the lease has since been extended.
  • The leased UAVs have completed 10,000 flight hours and have significantly contributed to the Indian Navy’s operations.

International Usage of MQ-9 UAVs

  • The MQ-9 UAV has been acquired by various countries, including the United States Air Force, Department of Homeland Security, NASA, Royal Air Force, Italian Air Force, French Air Force, and Spanish Air Force.

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