The US will sell the armed Guardian drones to India. The Guardian drones were originally authorised for sale as an unarmed drone only for surveillance operations. If the India-US defence deal is inked then it would be for the first time that the US will sell such a large consignment of armed drones to a nation outside the NATO alliance.
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The Guardian drones, if bought by India, will also be the first high-tech unparalleled aircraft in the region. The Guardian drones will deter Pakistan as it would provide India with an unmatched line of defence. The drones were to be a part of the agendas to be discussed at the 2+2 dialogue between India and the US that was scheduled for July. The dialogue was later postponed. The top-level meeting between the US and India is now expected to take place in September.
In April 2017, the Trump Administration overhauled the export policy for US arms and sought to expand sales to allies. The move was made to bolster the American defence industry and push job creation. The plans to export arms also included lethal armed drones and surveillance drones of all sizes to be made available to the allies. This relaxation to the export of US arms came in the wake of a stiff competition by Israeli and Chinese defence industry which sell under lower restrictions.
India is already in negotiations with the US to purchase 22 unarmed surveillance aircraft to keep a bird’s eye view over the Indian Ocean. The purchase of these 22 unarmed Guardian drones is expected to cost India a worth of more than $2 billion.
Indian defence forces are looking to acquire drones not just for surveillance but also for attacks on targets and enemies.