India Is Beefing Up Its Combat Drone Bench

November 10, 2015, 5:29 PM UTC
U.S. Air And Marine Predator Drones Launch For Missions Overlooking U.S.-Mexico Border
SIERRA VISTA, AZ - MARCH 07: Maintenence personel check a Predator drone operated by U.S. Office of Air and Marine (OAM), before its surveillance flight near the Mexican border on March 7, 2013 from Fort Huachuca in Sierra Vista, Arizona. The OAM, which is part of U.S. Customs and Border Protection, flies the unmanned - and unarmed - MQ-9 Predator B aircraft an average of 12 hours per day at around 19,000 feet over southern Arizona. The drones, piloted from the ground, search for drug smugglers and immigrants crossing illegally from Mexico into the United States. Due to federal sequestration cuts, Customs and Border Protection is expected to lose $500 million from its budget, and OAM staff at Ft. Huachuca are now taking unpaid furlough days once every two weeks. (Photo by John Moore/Getty Images)
Photograph by John Moore—Getty Images

India is seeking to buy armed Predator Avenger drones from the United States.

The bid, if successful, would make India one of the first countries to import the lethal drones from the U.S.

The Avenger is able to conduct long-distance missions of as long as 18 hours, with a payload of almost two tons, according to Bloomberg. With that kind of technology, India would be able to reach any part of Pakistan without endangering its own soldiers’ lives. Defense analysts warn that the high-tech drones could up the ante between the two countries and increase the likelihood of India striking Pakistan in response to a Pakistan-based terror attack.

The bid is a sign of the increasingly cozy India-U.S. arms relationship. Last year, India was the second-largest buyer of U.S. arms, accounting for 11.2% of U.S. arms exports, Bloomberg reported. India follows closely behind Saudi Arabia, which buys 11.8% of U.S. arms exports.

India’s current drone line-up includes mostly Israeli-made surveillance drones that aren’t equipped to carry munitions. But according to The Diplomat, India is looking to buy Heron combat drones from Israel—especially now that Pakistan announced its indigenously designed Burraq drone successfully killed militants within its borders. Concurrently, India is reported to be developing its own combat drones.