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The US State Department has authorized a significant drone sale to India, valued at nearly $4 billion.
This move involves the acquisition of 31 MQ-9B SkyGuardian aircraft from General Atomics Aeronautical Systems, initiating a 30-day review period by Congress as per the official notification.
State Department spokesperson Matthew Miller noted the transaction’s alignment with the broader US-India defense relationship, which has expanded over the last decade. He highlighted the deal’s potential to bolster strategic technology collaboration and regional military cooperation between the two nations. This sale is also part of a larger effort by the Biden administration to engage India as a strategic partner in the Indo-Pacific, aiming to balance China’s influence and diversify India’s defense procurement away from its traditional reliance on Russia.
India, recognized as the world’s top arms importer, is actively working towards enhancing its domestic defense production capabilities. The drone purchase reflects just a segment of the broader defense and technology agreements reached during Modi’s June visit to Washington, which included partnerships for fighter jet engine production between General Electric and Hindustan Aeronautics Ltd., and a substantial investment by Micron Technology to establish a semiconductor facility in India.
In addition, India and the United States have embarked on initiatives to deepen their defense and technology ties, including starting negotiations on a reciprocal defense procurement arrangement and launching the US-India initiative on “Critical and Emerging Technology.”