US State Department clears sale of Guardian drones to India
Indian Defence News: The US has cleared sale of predator Guardian drones to India.
Washington: The US state department has issued the necessary license for the export of 22 predator Guardian drones to India, a government source here said, days after Prime Minister Narendra Modi and President Donald Trump had their first bilateral meeting at the White House.
A DSP-5 drone is all set to enhance India maritime surveillance capabilities in the Indian Ocean region, license is issued for the permanent export of military hardware as found in the US Munitions List which is defined by the International Traffic Arms Regulations. The sale of Guardian drones was announced by Trump on June 26 after he met Modi for their first face-to-face meeting.
“We are extremely pleased that President Trump and Prime Minister Modi have had excellent deliberations and the path forward for a game-changer in US-India defence relations has been charted,” said Vivek Lall of General Atomics.
Lall, who in his previous capacity at Boeing, was instrumental in the sale of high-tech military hardware to India, is believed to have played a role in convincing the Trump administration to accelerate the sale of the drones.
“Given the Sea Guardian’s capabilities, such a response to the Indian Navy’s request demonstrates a major change in US policy as this type of aircraft capability is only exported to a very select few of America’s closest defence partners,” he said.
“This represents tangible implementation of US Congress’ designation of India as a ‘Major Defence Partner’,” said Lall.
On Tuesday, Lall met US Vice President Mike Pence on the sidelines of the annual US-India Business Council summit, when Pence endorsed the deal to provide India with Apache attack helicopters, C-17 transport aircraft, besides the drones.
The deal is seen as the biggest tangible takeaway from the Trump-Modi meeting towards the operationalisation of the major defence partner relationship.
The India Navy requested for the drones early last year, but no tangible action was taken under the previous Obama administration, apparently because of the stiff opposition from the state department, which argued that this could upset Pakistan, America’s ally in war against terror in Afghanistan.
Pakistan has been opposing Washington against the sale of the drones to India. However, the White House overruled all objections, paving the way for a new phase of India-US defence relationship.
Despite tremandous effort in the past, India has never been able to convince the US Government to approve the Predator technology, this is perhaps the milestone move in the Trump-Modi era that has allowed India to get the DSP-5 drone consignment approved.