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US Pressing India to Choose between Predator Drones or S-400 Air Defence System

Why is the US administration threatening to block sales of Predator Drones to India? How is the Russian S-400 Air Defence System linked to American Predator Drone? Will India’s acquisition of the state-of-the-art Russian S-400 Missile Defence System come at the cost of getting access to American cutting-edge and lethal Predator Drones?

William Thornberry, the Chairman of the House Armed Services Committee, said: “The acquisition of this technology (Predator Drones) will limit, the degree with which the US will feel comfortable in bringing additional technology into the country. Thornberry added that the acquisition of the S-400 Russian Missile Defence System would imperil their ability to work interoperably in the future.

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India-Russia Relations

India’s decision to go ahead with Russia for S-400 Missile Defence System could come in the way of India acquiring much hyped and sought after Predator Drones, which according to the Indian media, could be used to target terrorist camps near the Indo-Pakistan border.

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India manages a friendly relationship with both the United States and Russia, but it is Russia which has supplied the majority of India’s weapons over several decades. India is one of the largest importers of weapons in the world and acquires military hardware from a host of nations including Russia, US, France and Israel. Russia, by far, is the largest exporter of weapons to India and has been providing the latest, state-of-art equipments to India including fighter jets, aircraft carriers, submarines etc.

Predator Drones vs S-400 Air Defence Systems

Earlier, in an attempt to considerably improve India’s offensive capabilities, the Trump administration had agreed to supply long-endurance, high-altitude surveillance armed UAV’s – the Predator Drones to India, capable of tracking and neutralising targets across different terrains.

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Manufactured by General Atomics, Predator Drones have both land and naval variants and can be loaded with air-to-land missiles, anti-ship missiles and laser-guided bombs for hunting down targets.

Thornberry stated that the US was disappointed with India’s plan to acquire S-400 Air Defence Systems from Russia. If India goes ahead to procure Russian S-400 Air Defence Systems, this could endanger India-US Defence Relations and the first casualty would be advanced Predator drones, Thornberry warned.

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