India is reportedly planning to purchase 30 armed drones from the US in a bid to enhance its defence capabilities across the land and maritime borders.
The plan involves procuring 30 General Atomics -manufactured MQ-9B Predator drones as part of a $3bn deal expected to be finalised next month.
However, the Indian Defence Ministry did not respond to a request for comment on the potential deal.
The MQ-9B drone comes in land and sea variants. It is capable of flying for nearly 48 hours and can carry a payload of around 1,700kg.
It can also operate in adverse weather conditions and is designed to survive bird and lightning strikes.
The addition of this armed drone will enable the Indian Army to engage adversaries across the border, as well as provide the naval forces with improved capabilities to secure the seas against potential threats.
Currently, India’s arsenal includes drones that can only be used for surveillance and reconnaissance missions.
The move comes at a time when India is emerging as a key defence partner for the US in the region.
US President Joe Biden is expected to participate in a virtual meeting with the leaders of India, Australia and Japan this week.
Additionally, US Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin is expected to visit India this month.
Last month, Indian and US soldiers participated in a joint military exercise in Rajasthan, India.
In a separate development, the Indian Army began a joint military exercise called DUSTLIK II with Uzbekistan Army. This is the second edition of this bilateral exercise.
This year, around 45 soldiers from each side will participate in counter-terrorism operations in mountainous / rural / urban scenario.