US Defense Firm Hails Indian Navy’s Stellar Anti-Piracy Ops; Subtly Praises Its MQ-9B Sea Guardian Drone

An anti-piracy operation undertaken by the Indian Navy to free the hijacked MV Ruen earlier this month grabbed eyeballs. Among a host of leaders and officials praising the Indian Navy’s heroic act is the US defense manufacturer General Atomics, whose MQ-9B Sea Guardian drone was used in the operation.

Lauding the operation, GA-ASI shared an enthralling image of the UAV and wrote on platform X, “The Indian Navy deployed a long-endurance MQ-9B SeaGuardian as part of a 40 hr mission that seized the hijacked vessel MV Ruen, captured 35 pirates and rescued 17 hostages.”

It is further hyperlinked to an Economic Times story that praised the Indian operations.

After 40 hours of intense action that took place 1400 kilometers off the coast of India, the MV Ruen was saved, and 35 pirates were taken into custody. The seized vessel’s navigation system was destroyed by the Indian Navy destroyer INS Kolkata, limiting its range of motion.

The operation demonstrated how India’s ability to intervene and its awareness of the maritime domain has increased dramatically over the past few years.

John Bradford, a Council on Foreign Relations International Affairs fellow, was quoted by CNN as saying, “What marks this operation as impressive is how risk was minimized by using a coordinated force that includes the use of a warship, drones, fixed and rotary-wing aircraft, and marine commandos.”

As part of this high-octane mission, the Indian Navy deployed destroyer INS Kolkata, long-endurance Sea Guardian drones, P-8I surveillance aircraft, and elite MARCOS commandos who airdropped from a C-17 aircraft.

For its part, the US firm GA-ASI, which manufactures the Sea Guardian drone, has taken the opportunity to highlight the capability of its cutting-edge drones in modern times.

The Indian Navy has been operating the Sea Guardian variant of the MQ-9s since November 2020, and they are said to have taken up so many tasks of the P8-I Poseidon aircraft that it has been freed to do its primary duty of anti-submarine warfare and anti-surface warfare.

Captain DK Sharma, the former Indian Navy spokesperson, earlier told the EurAsian Times, “It (MQ-9B) is the best in the world. It is unmatched. The Indian Navy has been operating the Sea Guardians for three years, proving its weight in gold. It has taken up so much tasking otherwise given to P-8Is. Besides saving money, it also saves precious manpower and stays on task for longer,” Captain Sharma added.

Multi-mission configuration capabilities enable Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UCAVs) such as the Sea Guardian to be used for surface warfare, anti-submarine warfare, maritime intelligence, reconnaissance, and SAR (search and rescue) missions.

Armed with smart bombs and Hellfire air-to-ground missiles, this fighter-sized drone can fly for 40 hours at heights higher than 40,000 feet. It is designed for over-the-horizon intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance (ISR) missions.

Earlier this year, the sale of 31 MQ-9B Sea Guardian drones to India was approved by the US State Department. Experts have noted that India’s capacity to carry out unmanned surveillance and reconnaissance patrols will be greatly improved by these armed UAVs, especially in the Indian Ocean Region (IOR) and along its land borders with China and Pakistan.

When the US announced its decision, several reports noted that the economic considerations of General Atomics, the contractor based in California, had played a crucial decision in Washington’s approval after a long period of dilly-dallying owing to several issues. This might explain the US firm’s active appreciation of its renowned product in one of the most successful anti-piracy operations by the Indian Navy in recent times.

However, it also underscores the need for acquiring critical assets like the Sea Guardian drones, given that India has emerged as a crucial player in the Indian Ocean Region (IOR), where piracy has touched unprecedented levels lately.

While still reveling in the appreciation coming its way, the Indian Navy again sprung into action on March 29 as it performed yet another operation in the Indian Ocean Region and rescued Pakistani fishermen from the captivity of Somali pirates: another feat that has made the world take notice.


Indian Navy Rescues Pakistani Fishermen

In the wee hours of March 29, the Indian Navy carried out a 12-hour operation in the Arabian Sea and freed an Iranian vessel carrying 23 Pakistani fishermen who were being held captive by Somali pirates.

The Indian Navy said that the INS Sumedha intercepted FV ‘Al Kambar’ in the early hours of March 29 and was subsequently joined by the guided missile frigate INS Trishul.

“After more than 12 hrs of intense coercive tactical measures as per the SOPs, the pirates on board the hijacked FV were forced to surrender. The crew, comprising 23 Pakistani nationals, have been safely rescued,” the Indian Navy said in a statement.

It stated that the fishing vessel was “reported to have been boarded by nine armed pirates” at the time of the event, which occurred about 90 nautical miles southwest of Socotra, located close to the Gulf of Aden in the northwest Indian Ocean.

According to an official statement provided by the Navy’s spokesperson, Indian naval expert teams were currently completing comprehensive sanitization and seaworthiness checks of the fishing vessel to accompany her to a secure place for the resumption of normal fishing activity.

The incident comes at a time when there has been an increase in serious incidents of maritime security. The terrorist attack on commercial and warships, drone attacks, piracy, and armed robbery in the Indian Ocean has a compounding effect on global shipping prices, insurance, and the safety of seafarers.

The Indian Navy, however, emphasized, “irrespective of the nationalities,” it was dedicated to maintaining maritime security in the area and mariners’ safety.

Lauding the achievement, military observers and veterans said a spate of successful rescues has once again established India’s commitment to safe seas and its improved standing in the IOR.