The Predator Guardian platform provides high-altitude wide-area long-endurance maritime ISR capability. This is part of New Delhi’s efforts to fast-track its goal to secure the country’s maritime assets in particular in the Indian Ocean and detect any untoward intrusion — like the one during the 26/11 Mumbai terror attack — on a real-time basis.
The LoR comes less than a fortnight after India was inducted into Missile Technology Control Regime (MTCR) and was recognised as a “major defence partner” by the US after a meeting between Prime Minister Narendra Modi and US President Barack Obama.
The latest request is in addition to the one for Predator Avengers for the Indian Air Force made last year. It is seen that India could be looking at over 250 UAVs over the next few years worth over $5 billion.
The Predator ‘Guardian’ platform would help in protection and vigilance of the maritime assets in the Indian Ocean and both the east and west coast. Flying at an altitude of 50,000 feet, these drones have the capacity to fly non-stop for more than 24 hours and monitor the movement of objects as small as a football on a real-time basis, sources said.
Obama and Modi affirmed their support for US-India cooperation in promoting maritime security. As indicated in the joint statement, both leaders reiterated the importance they attach to ensuring freedom of navigation and overflight and exploitation of resources as per international law, including the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea, and settlement of territorial disputes by peaceful means.
Modi had met top CEO’s in Washington DC, including defence industry stalwarts such as Merillyn Hewson, CEO of Lockheed Martin, as well as Dr Vivek Lall, chief executive, US and International Strategic Development, at General Atomics.
Lall, considered an aerospace whiz by both US and Indian governments, had in an interview told FE last year: “Predator-series RPA may be integrated with multiple ISR sensors, including state-of-the-art EO/IR cameras and GA-ASI’s Lynx Multi-mode Radar which features a state-of-the-art Synthetic Aperture Radar (SAR) mode that offers all-weather, day/night performance for a wide-area search capability. Its Ground Moving Target Indicator (GMTI) mode provides a quick and easy method for locating moving vehicles.
“The radar’s Maritime Wide Area Search (MWAS) mode provides the capability to complete a variety of maritime missions successfully, including coastal surveillance, long-range surveillance, small target detection, and search and rescue operations,” he had added.