Kushal Kumar Jha
Indian Navy inducts two Predator drones on lease under emergency procurement powers
In a bid to boost surveillance capabilities of the Indian Navy, India has inducted two Predator drones from an American firm on lease under the emergency procurement powers granted by the Defence Ministry amid Indo-China border tensions. The drones are said to be acquired for deployment over the Indian Ocean Region (IOR) to counter the growing maritime security threat posed by China. These drones are also speculated to be deployed along the Line of Actual Control (LAC) in Eastern Ladakh amid growing tensions with Chinese neighbours. "The drones arrived in India in the second week of November and were inducted into flying operations on 21st November at Indian Navy base at INS Rajali," top government sources told ANI. The drones acquired by the Indian Navy have already started their flying operations and possess the endurance capabilities of being in the air for over 30 hours. These drones are proving to be a big asset for the maritime force, they said. An American crew from the vendor is also accompanying the equipment and would help the Indian Navy to operate the machines, the sources said. The drones are leased for a year only, as Indian Armed Forces are already preparing for the procurement of 18 more such drones from the United States. The vendor who supplied these drones are also responsible for their maintenance. However, the data recorded by these drones will remain as exclusive property to the Indian Navy. The Predator drones are capable of carrying potent weapon systems like lethal Hellfire missiles. However, it is unlikely that these models are leased along with it.