India had proposed to purchase 31 MQ-9B Sky Guardian drones during Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s state visit to the US last year.
US has cleared the sale of MQ-9B Sea Guardian drones to India in a deal nearly worth $4 Billion. The Defence Security Cooperation Agency has delivered the required certification, notifying the US Congress of the possible sale today.
India had proposed to purchase 31 MQ-9B Sky Guardian drones during Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s state visit to the US last year. The Biden administration’s approval is an important landmark in the government-to-government deal.
“This proposed sale will support the foreign policy and national security objectives of the United States by helping to strengthen the U.S.-Indian strategic relationship and to improve the security of a major defence partner which continues to be an important force for political stability, peace, and economic progress in the Indo-Pacific and South Asia region,” Defence Security Cooperation Agency said.
The critical defence deal was in the works for close to six years and Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s US visit marked the final go-ahead and the government-to-government $3.99 billion deal was finalized. The 31 drones will be used by the Indian Army, Navy and the Air Force.
The approval by the US agency comes at a time when media reports were circulating that the US has put the deal on hold over the alleged failed plot by an Indian national to kill India-designated Khalistani terrorist Gurpatwant Singh Pannun.
The Biden administration’s sign-off indicates the deal’s progress, though the spokesperson of the US State Department, Matthew Miller, earlier, neither accepted nor denied the report and said, “Of course, Congress plays an important role in the US arms transfer process. We routinely consult with members of Congress on the foreign affairs committees before our formal notification so we can address questions that they might have, but I don’t have any comment on when that formal notification might take place,” adding that he has not seen reports appearing on this in the Indian press.
External Affairs Ministry Spokesperson, Randhir Jaiswal, in a press conference, tried to clear the air surrounding the sale of drones and said, “This particular matter relates to the US side. They have their internal processes in place and we are respectful of that. That is where I would like to leave my comment.” The Centre’s Press Information Bureau’s fact-checking unit called the report fake which claimed that the US had blocked the drone deal.