The Ministry of Defence (MoD) is preparing to acquire 30 General Atomics MQ-9B Guardian drones from the United States, in a deal valued at approximately $3 billion (Rs 22,000 crore). A recent series of meetings within the MoD have cleared the way for the procurement of an initial lot of six Reaper Medium Altitude Long Endurance drones. These six drones—two each for the army, navy and air force—are to be procured immediately from the US, indicating the urgency of the acquisition.

印度国防部正准备从美国购买30架通用原子MQ-9B无人机,这笔交易价值约30亿美元(2200亿卢比)。最近国防部内部的一系列会议已经为采购6架“收割者”中高空长航时无人机铺平了道路。这6架无人机——陆军、海军和空军各2架——将立即从美国采购,这表明了采购的紧迫性。

Sources tell INDIA TODAY that an ‘acceptance of necessity’ (AON) for 30 drones will be put before an upcoming meeting of the Defence Acquisition Council (DAC), headed by defence minister Rajnath Singh. The contract is being broken up into two parts—six MQ-9s worth approximately $600 million (Rs 4,400 crore) are to be purchased outright and delivered in the next few months. The remaining 24—eight drones for each service—will be acquired over the next three years under an ‘option clause’ in the contract. The deal has been in the pipeline for the past three years, first as the sale of 22 Sea Guardians (an unarmed maritime variant of the MQ-9) for the Indian Navy in 2017. This was then converted into a tri-services acquisition by the government in 2018 when the armed version of the MQ-9 was cleared for sale to India by the US.

消息人士今天告诉印度,国防采购委员会即将召开的会议将进行这30架无人机的“接受必要性”(AON)审查,该委员会由国防部长拉杰纳特·辛格领导。该合同将分为两个部分——6架MQ-9,价值约6亿美元(440亿卢比),将直接购买并在未来几个月内交付。剩下的24架无人机——每个军种各8架——将根据合同中的“选项条款”在未来三年内购买。过去三年里该协议一直在筹备中,首先是在2017年向印度海军出售22架“海洋卫士”(MQ-9的一种非武装海上改进型)。在2018年,当MQ-9的武装版本被美国批准出售给印度时,被政府转变为一项三军采购案。

An AON is formally the first step in hardware procurement by the MoD. It usually takes several years for AON cases to turn into contracts. The MQ-9 acquisition, it is understood, will be concluded in a far shorter timefrx. It is being processed as a fast-track, government-to-government deal with the United States and will be swiftly concluded by the MoD. The six drones are to be delivered immediately by the US, and could possibly be units already produced for the US armed forces or its allies. It is not clear if the initial batch of drones will be armed with Hellfire missiles and other air-to-ground munitions.

正式来说,AON是国防部采购硬件的第一步,通常需要数年时间才能将AON案转化为合同。据悉,MQ-9的采购将在一个更短的时间框架内完成。这是一项与美国政府间的快速协议,并将很快得到印度国防部签署。美国将立即交付的6架无人机,可能是已经为美国军队或其盟友生产的单位。目前还不清楚首批无人机是否会配备地狱火导弹和其他空对地弹药。

MoD meetings to decide the deal are being steered by Chief of Defence Staff General Bipin Rawat, who, as permanent Chairman Chiefs of Staff Committee, decides inter-service defence acquisitions. The MoD might even convene a special meeting of the DAC to sanction this deal. This is the last major contract signed between the governments of Prime Minister Modi and US President Donald Trump, who is seeking re-election this November.

决定该交易的国防部会议是由国防参谋长Bipin Rawat主持的,他作为参谋长委员会的常任主席,负责决定军种间的国防采购。国防部甚至可能会召开DAC的特别会议来批准这项交易。这是莫迪总理和美国总统唐纳德·特朗普签署的最后一份重要合同,特朗普今年11月将寻求连任。

The Indian Navy has been made the lead service for this significant acquisition. One naval officer calls the deal a ‘game changer’ because of the platform’s ability to mount continuous and persistent surveillance. The MQ-9 can carry electro-optical / infra-red multi-mode radar and multi-mode maritime surveillance radar, laser designators, electronic support measures and various weapons packages. It can form a deadly combination with two other US-supplied platforms—the P8-I Poseidon long range maritime patrol aircraft and the (under delivery) MH-60R multi-role helicopters— to track and hunt surface ships and submarines in the Indian Ocean region.

印度海军已经成为这一重要采购案的主导军种。一名海军军官称该交易是一个“游戏规则改变者”,因为该平台能够实现持续和持久的监视。MQ-9能携带光电/红外多模式雷达和多模式海上监视雷达、激光指示器、电子支援措施和各种武器套件。它可以与美国提供的另外两种平台——P8-I波塞冬远程海上巡逻机和(正在交付的)MH-60R多用途直升机形成致命的组合,以跟踪和搜索印度洋地区的水面舰艇和潜艇。


The United States has emerged as India’s largest supplier of defence hardware after Russia, selling India a total of $18 billion worth of military hardware since 2008. In February this year, the two countries concluded a $2.1 billion deal for India to buy 24 MH-60R Seahawk helicopters for the Indian Navy.

美国已成为印度仅次于俄罗斯的最大的国防硬件供应国。自2008年以来,美国向印度出售了价值180亿美元的军事硬件。今年2月,两国与印度达成了一项价值21亿美元的协议,为印度海军购买24架MH-60R“海鹰”直升机。