US Congress Approves $4 Billion Sale of Armed Drones to India


The US State Department has given its approval for the potential sale of 31 armed drones, along with missiles and other equipment, to India, totaling nearly $4 billion (£3.14 billion).

The deal involving MQ-9B Predator drones was initially announced during Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi's visit to the US in June 2023. However, a Senate committee had put the deal on hold in December to investigate an alleged Indian plot to assassinate an American citizen on US soil.

The deal has now received the green light from the US State Department, and its confirmation awaits approval from the US Congress. The package includes the sale of 31 armed MQ-9B SkyGuardian drones, 170 AGM-114R Hellfire missiles, 310 laser small diameter bombs, communications and surveillance equipment, and a precision glide bomb. General Atomics Aeronautical Systems will be the primary contractor for the deal.

Senator Ben Cardin, who had placed a "hold" on the agreement pending investigation into the alleged assassination plot, announced that he had lifted the hold after the US government committed to a thorough investigation. The Biden administration emphasized the need for accountability in the US and India regarding such activities.

Last year, the US accused India of plotting to assassinate an American citizen advocating for Khalistan, an independent Sikh state. The Biden administration demanded an investigation and accountability in both countries. India denied involvement in the alleged murder plot and formed a high-level inquiry committee to address the US government's security concerns.

The Pentagon, in its statement on Thursday, highlighted that the proposed drone deal with India would contribute to the foreign policy and national security objectives of the United States by strengthening the strategic relationship between the two nations. Photo by Martin Falbisoner, Wikimedia commons.

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