India-US in Talks for $3.9B MQ-9B Drone Deal

Discussions Underway for 31 Drones Acquisition

In a significant development, a team from the is currently in for discussions on the acquisition of MQ-9B drones by the Indian armed forces. If finalized, the deal is estimated to be worth $3.9 billion, with 31 drones being acquired, 15 of which will have a maritime role.

The US government reportedly gave the green light for the deal in February, valuing it at an estimated $3.99 billion, up from earlier estimates of $3 billion. However, discussions on technology sharing are still ongoing and not yet finalized.

India Seeks Higher Local Manufacturing Content

India has been negotiating for a higher content of the MQ-9B drones to be manufactured locally, which will also bolster efforts to build indigenous combat drones in the future. General Atomics, the US company, had expressed its willingness to manufacture some components in India, valued at 8-9% of the deal. However, officials have been trying to increase this to 15-20% of the deal value.

General Atomics already has a tie-up with Bharat Forge to make UAV components and has also committed to setting up a global maintenance hub for the MQ-9B drones in India.

Planned Hubs for MQ-9B Operations

Once in service, the MQ-9Bs will operate from three planned hubs in India, including INS Rajali in Tamil Nadu, where two of the drones that have been leased by the Navy already operate. The other hubs are expected to come up in North India and North East.

“The US approved selling 31 MQ-9B armed drones to India for $4 billion to boost its maritime security. This deal will give India 16 times more armed drones than its current fleet and enhance its surveillance capabilities.”

DroneXL's Take

The potential acquisition of MQ-9B drones by India from the United States is a significant step towards enhancing India's maritime security and surveillance capabilities. This deal not only strengthens the strategic partnership between the two nations but also opens up opportunities for increased local manufacturing and technology sharing in the .

As India continues to bolster its defense capabilities, the integration of advanced drones like the MQ-9B will provide a significant boost to its armed forces, particularly in monitoring and protecting its vast coastline and maritime interests. The commitment to establish a global maintenance hub for these drones in India further highlights the long-term vision and potential for growth in the Indian drone sector.

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Haye Kesteloo
Haye Kesteloo

Haye Kesteloo is the Editor in Chief and Founder of, where he covers all drone-related news, DJI rumors and writes drone reviews, and, for all news related to electric vehicles. He is also a co-host of the PiXL Drone Show on YouTube and other podcast platforms. Haye can be reached at haye @ or @hayekesteloo.

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