Washington: The United States has offered India the armed version of Guardian drones that were originally authorised for sale as unarmed for surveillance purposes, a senior US official and an industry source told Reuters.
If the deal comes to fruition, it would be the first time Washington has sold a large armed drone to a country outside the NATO alliance. It would also be the first high-tech unmanned aircraft in the region, where tensions between India and Pakistan run high.
US President Donald Trump’s administration had in April rolled out a long-awaited overhaul of US arms export policy aimed at expanding sales to allies, saying it would bolster the American defense industry and create jobs at home.
The plan included a new drone export policy that allowed lethal drones that can fire missiles, and surveillance drones of all sizes, to be more widely available to allies.
An Indian defence source said the military wanted a drone not just for surveillance but also to be able to hunt down targets at land and sea. The military had argued the costs of acquisition did not justify buying an unarmed drone.