Indian Navy has inducted two American Predator drones on lease from the US to carry out surveillance in the Indian Ocean region. Capable of carrying out surveillance for more than 30 hours, the drones are operating out of Indian Navy’s INS Rajali airbase, top government sources told the media. The two Predator drones arrived in India around mid-November and entered into an operational role in the third week of November. As part of the deal, the vendor has deployed a team to guide the personnel operating the Predator drones.
The two American drones — Sea Guardian, unarmed version of the deadly Predator series — into the Navy on lease under the emergency procurement in the backdrop of the the India-China border conflict. The American Predator drones could also be made available to Indian forces deployed along the LAC in eastern Ladakh where India and China are engaged in a military standoff.
Over the past few months, India and the US have been working closely in opposition to Chinese aggression in eastern Ladakh. Under this partnership, the US is helping India with surveillance and information sharing in all domains, sources told. As part of the lease agreement, the American support staff will only assist with maintenance and technical issues. This means that sortie planning and joystick control will rest with Indian Navy personnel. Data gathered during the flights by the Predator drones will also be the exclusive property of the Indian Navy, sources added.