‘India’s drone deal cheaper than other countries’, Center rejects Congress’s allegations -aabtak24


US Predator Drones Deal: Congress has raised questions on the cost of Predator drone deal with America. On which a statement has been given by the Central Government. Defense Ministry officials said on Thursday (June 29) that India has signed a deal with the US for 31 Predator drones. Negotiations regarding the price of which are in the initial stage. The proposed average estimated cost would be 27 percent lower than other countries buying it from the US. 

A senior Defense Ministry official told news agency ANI that till now India has received indicative price and data from the US Office of Defense Cooperation and the procurement process has to go through various stages of negotiation before finalizing the price . He added that if India does not ask for additional specifications on the drone, the cost is likely to go down further during the talks. 

India-US drone deal 

The indicative cost of these US-made drones is US $ 307.2 million. The official said that this cost works out to US $ 9.9 million for each drone. He also said that the United Arab Emirates, one of the few countries to have this drone, had to pay US $ 161 million per drone. He said the MQ-9B that India wants to buy is similar to the one from UAE but with better design. 

Congress has raised questions

According to the official, each of the sixteen such drones bought by Britain cost US$69 million, but it was only a green aircraft without sensors, weapons and certification. Features like sensors, weapons and payload account for 60-70 per cent of the total cost. Congress demands full transparency in Indo-US drone deal and alleges that 31 MQ-9B Predator UAV drones were bought at a high cost going. 

Target on Modi government

Congress spokesperson Pawan Kheda said that national security is paramount and many doubts are being raised on the Predator drone deal. We demand complete transparency in this Predator drone deal. India needs answers to important questions. Otherwise, we will be caught in another scam in the Modi government. He said that the Modi government is known for jeopardizing national interests and the people of India have seen the same in the Rafale deal, where the Modi government has awarded 126 Instead buy only 36 Rafale jets. 

The Ministry of Defense rejected the allegations

Senior Defense Ministry officials denied the claims made by the Congress and said that this is a transparent one-to-one dialogue in which India is dealing directly with the US. General Atomics can sell high-technology drones to India only through the US government under its Foreign Military Sales program. The Defense Ministry official said any such high-technology deal falls under federal acquisition rules and requires approval by the US Congress. 

Largest order of 31 drones placed

The drones that India wants to buy can carry a large amount of weapons and can fly very high. Officials said they can capture high-resolution images even in adverse conditions. General Atomics has also sold Predator MQ 9B drones to Belgium, UAE, Taiwan, Morocco and other countries. India has placed the largest order of 31 drones equipped with all related equipment including sensors and weapons. Officials said that the Indian Navy has been using two MQ 9B drones since 2020. These were taken on lease.

Deal struck on PM Modi’s US visit

India and the US sealed the drone deal during Prime Minister Modi’s recent visit to the US, which is being seen as part of his efforts to make India a drone manufacturing hub. These high-altitude and long-endurance drones are capable of staying in the air for more than 35 hours and can carry four Hellfire missiles and approximately 450 kg of warhead. 

(also input from PTI)

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