The Indian Navy has leased 2 MQ-9B SeaGuardian/Predator reconnaissance drones from United States for 1 year under emergency procurement for surveillance in the Indian Ocean Region.
The drones arrived in India in 2nd week of November undertaking flying operations from 21 November.
“The drones arrived in India in the second week of November and were inducted into flying operations on November 21 at Indian Navy base at INS Rajali,” top government sources told ANI.
INS Rajali is also the home base of multi mission maritime patrol Boeing P-8I aircraft. The SeaGuardian drones will complement Indian Navy P-8I aircrafts in reconnaissance, surveillance and in intelligence mission.
On 27 October, India signed BECA (Basic Exchange and Cooperation Agreement) with United States and this drones came just after both the countries signed last foundational agreement.
Why MQ-9B SeaGuardian Drones are important for Indian Navy ?
The Indian Navy has a large ocean to monitor and with a limited resource that Navy has it become very difficult to have a 24 hours close watch in a particular area.
Currently Navy is using P-8I and IAI Heron drones reconnaissance and patrol mission. The problem with P-8I is, that it has a limited endurance while Heron has a long endurance but has a Service celling of just 10,000 m which makes it vulnerable from enemy Air Defence System.
On the other hand MQ-9B is a high altitude, long endurance Drones. SeaGuardian can fly at height of 15,420 m and has a endurance of 30 hours.
These drones can be configurable according to mission and Navy can carry multiple missions like anti-surface warfare, anti-submarines, humanitarian etc., through this platform.
SeaGuardian’s onboard GA-ASI Lynx Synthetic Aperture Radar (SAR), Operates in Ku-band, Lynx provide either broad-area strip map coverage out to a range of more than 80 KM slat and 10 KM swath, with a high-resolution spot capability down to an exceptionally fine resolution.
The radar also has a Ground Moving Target Indicator (GMTI) mode that exploits the Doppler effect to detect and track moving vehicles out to a range of 23 km. GMTI offers arc and spot scan capabilities and can be used to cross-cue other sensors.
LYNX MULTI-MODE RADAR of the SeaGuardian RPAs.
Operates in Ku-band, Lynx provide either broad-area strip map coverage out to a range of more than 80 km slat n 10km swath, with a high-resolution spot capability down to an exceptionally fine resolution. The radar also hs a Ground pic.twitter.com/RK8SV3kXnh
— Defence Decode® (@DefenceDecode) November 26, 2020
The two Drones that navy leased is an unarmed variant and India is looking to purchase 22-30 such drones including the armed variant.
Yes, the two platform is not going to fill the critical requirement of drones in Indian Armed Forces but the procurement of such equipments will at least take 1-2 year, until then Navy leased these drone under emergency power granted to them by defence ministry.
It is possible that one of the leased drone deployed at the Line Of Actual Control (LAC) in Eastern Ladakh.
American support staff will only help with the maintenance and technical issues, the joystick control and data gathered by the SeaGuardian is the exclusive property of Indian Navy.
It is possible that the Indian Air Force has also leased equipment such as AEW&CS (Airborne Early Warning and Control System) and aerial refueling aircraft in coming days.