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HAL to provide MRO for MQ-9B drone engines in India

Published: 16th Feb, 2023

Context

State-run aerospace behemoth Hindustan Aeronautics (HAL) will provide maintenance support services for engines of American MQ-9B Remotely Piloted Aircraft System, considered one of the most sophisticated armed drones globally, for their operations in India.

About

About MQ-9B RPAS drone (SeaGuardian)

  • The MQ-9B RPAS drone, also known as the SeaGuardian, is the latest and more advanced version of the Predator drone, which was initially developed in the early 1990s for aerial reconnaissance and forward observation roles.
    • After the failure of the GNAT 750 in operations over Bosnia and Herzegovina in 1993 and 1994, the RQ-1 Predator was developed as a more capable and enhanced version for medium-altitude tactical reconnaissance.
  • The MQ-9B has two variants - SkyGuardian and SeaGuardian, with the latter being operated by the Indian Navy since 2020.
  • The MQ-9B Sea Guardian can carry up to 12,500 lb and has a fuel capacity of 6,000 lb, allowing it to operate at over 40,000 feet, providing the Indian military with surveillance capacity in the high-altitude Himalayan border areas.
  • Additionally, the drone can support various missions, including land and maritime surveillance, anti-submarine warfare, anti-surface warfare, strike, electronic warfare, and expeditionary roles.
  • The MQ-9B Sea Guardian also has automatic take-offs and landings, which makes it a more efficient and convenient option for the military.
  • The drone's maximum endurance of 40 hours is also useful for long-hour surveillance missions.
  • The MQ-9 and other UAVs are referred to as remotely piloted vehicles/aircraft (RPV/RPA) by the USAF.
  • The aircraft is monitored and controlled by aircrew in the Ground Control Station (GCS) and is popularly known in the US as the first hunter-killer UAV.

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