Indian Navy’s MQ-9B drones seen in satellite imagery for the first time; Were praised after clashes with China in Ladakh

The two MQ-9B drones leased by the Indian Navy from US defense major General Atomics have been spotted for the first time in satellite imagery.

The drones were spotted at INS Rajali, an Indian naval air station near Arakkonam in Ranipet district of Tamil Nadu, by Damien Symon, an analyst with The Intel Lab who tweets as @detresfa_.

Satellite image of Indian Naval Station Rajali in Tamil Nadu showing MQ-9 SeaGuardian drones on site. (@detresfa_/Twitter)

The drones were hired at the height of tensions between India and China in eastern Ladakh and arrived at INS Rajali in November 2020.

In a recent interview, Vice Admiral MS Pawar, who served as Deputy Chief of Navy Staff when India leased the drone, said the Navy was able to complete the lease process. in 37 days.

The lease of the two unarmed drones came amid India’s plans to procure up to 30 armed versions of the Sea Guardian drones from the United States to bolster the navy’s overall surveillance capabilities in the Indian Ocean. amid an increasing Chinese presence in the region.

“The maritime variant of the MQ-9B, SeaGuardian, can be configured with cross-domain capabilities for a wide range of maritime surveillance operations, including anti-surface warfare, anti-submarine warfare, and search and the rescue,” the manufacturer General Atomics said on its website.

In September 2020, the Narendra Modi government had unveiled a new defense procurement procedure under which the three services were allowed to lease military hardware, equipment and platforms like helicopters, simulators and planes. transport and drones, among others.

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