Sea Guardian drones
The Indian Navy has inducted two unarmed ‘MQ-9B’ Sea Guardian drones. These drones have been procured from the United States on lease.
- The drones which arrived in India in mid-November are on lease for one year.
- The Guardian drone is the maritime variant of the Predator MQ-9 Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV).
- MQ-9 UAV can fly at a maximum altitude of 40,000 feet and has a maximum endurance of 40 hours. It has a maritime surveillance radar.
- The two unarmed Guardians have already been inducted into flying operations at the Indian Navy base at INS Rajali.
- With this lease, the requirement of additional P-8I maritime patrol aircraft has been reduced from ten to six.
- Defence Acquisition Procedure (DAP) 2020, released by the Union Ministry of Defence, has introduced the option for leasing military platforms.
- Moreover, the Basic Exchange and Cooperation Agreement for Geo-Spatial Cooperation (BECA) have made such high-technology cooperation easy.
UAV procurement from the US
A tri-service proposal for the procurement of 10 Unmanned Aerial vehicles (UAV) from the U.S. for each Service was in the pipeline but now has been delayed due to budget issues.
India-U.S 2+2 Ministerial Dialogue
Recently, the 3rd annual India-U.S. 2+2 Ministerial Dialogue was held in October 2020. In the meeting, both the countries committed to deepening their Defence and Security Partnership. In the meet, both the countries signed the Basic Exchange and Cooperation Agreement (BECA). Both the countries welcomed the participation of Australia in the Malabar Exercise and also looked forward to the next edition of Army Exercises Yudh Abhyas and VAJRA PRAHAR in 2021 and the Tri-Services Amphibious TIGER TRIUMPH HADR Exercise. Other than this, both the countries discussed cooperation for handling COVID-19; strengthening bilateral cooperation, etc.
Basic Exchange and Cooperation Agreement (BECA)
It is an agreement for exchanging information related to satellite images and maps. It is especially related to geospatial intelligence.