U.S.-India drone deal 'potentially important,' White House says


The US State Department has expressed optimism about the proposed drone deal with India and highlighted its “significant potential” to advance strategic technology cooperation.

The deal, announced during Prime Minister Narendra Modi's visit last year, marked substantial growth in the US-India defense partnership over the past decade.

Matthew Miller, a spokesperson for the US State Department, highlighted the importance of the agreement in advancing strategic technological cooperation with India and increasing military collaboration in the region.

Speaking to the media, Miller said: “So I think in general the defense partnership between the United States and India has seen significant growth over the last decade. This is the proposed sale announced during Prime Minister Modi’s visit last year.”

“We believe this offers significant potential to further advance strategic technological cooperation with India and military cooperation in the region,” he added.

He also recognized the important role of Congress in the arms transfer process, emphasizing regular consultations with Members of Congress in the Foreign Affairs Committees before formal notification.

“Of course, Congress plays an important role in the process of transferring weapons to the United States. We regularly consult with Members of Congress on the Foreign Affairs Committees in advance of our official notifications so that we can answer their questions. But I have no comments. on when that official notification will take place,” Miller said.

The proposed drone deal is part of a broader effort to strengthen defense ties between the United States and India.

In June 2023, US President Joe Biden and Prime Minister Modi welcomed India's plan to purchase Predator drones made by General Atomics, a major deal that would allow US Navy ships to undergo major repairs in Indian shipyards.

President Biden and Prime Minister Modi welcomed India's plans to acquire General Atomics MQ-9B HALE drones. The MQ-9B, assembled in India, will enhance the ISR capabilities of the Indian armed forces in the region. As part of the plan, General Atomics will also set up a comprehensive global MRO facility in India, according to a joint US-India statement.

The agreement will strengthen India's national security and surveillance capabilities, extending beyond the Indian Ocean and covering the border region with China.

India shares vast maritime and land borders with its two arch-enemies – Pakistan and China – and requires constant monitoring of their activities to safeguard its national security interests.

The Quad group of countries – the United States, India, Australia and Japan – operate or have operated the MQ-9B SeaGuardian. Currently, India leases MQ-9Bs for intelligence gathering operations.

The Predator, also called the MQ-9 Reaper, can fly for up to 36 hours at a time and can be used for targeted surveillance of specific points or areas.

A total of 31 Predator drones, which India will soon acquire from the United States, will be jointly operated by the tri-service.

President Biden and Prime Minister Modi also welcomed the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding between General Electric and Hindustan Aeronautics Limited for the manufacturing of GE F-414 jet engines in India, for the Mk 2 light combat aircraft of Hindustan Aeronautics Limited, the statement added.

(Except for the headline, this story has not been edited by NDTV staff and is published from a syndicated feed.)

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