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MQ-9B Predator drones

  • Published
    8th Jul, 2023

The Indian Navy Chief, Admiral R Hari Kumar stated that India will deploy 16 MQ-9B Predator drones on the land border, out of the total 31 drones being bought from the United States.

What are the Predator drones?

  • The Predator drone or the MQ-9 Reaper is an unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV).
  • Developed by: General Atomics Aeronautical Systems
  • It is primarily used for long-endurance, high-altitude surveillance and strike missions.
  • The Reaper is the successor to the MQ-1 Predator drone. The development of the Predator began in the 1990s.
  • Its ISR capabilities, endurance, and armament make it an effective tool for tracking and targeting insurgent and terrorist networks, disrupting their activities, and supporting ground operations.

Role and capabilities

  • The primary role of the Predator drone is intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance (ISR).
  • Precision airstrikes: It is capable to conduct precision airstrikes. It can carry and employ a range of munitions, including the AGM-114 Hellfire missiles and GBU-12 Paveway II laser-guided bombs.
  • Close Air Support: The Reaper can provide close air support (CAS) to ground forces engaged in combat operations.
  • Real-time support: It can loiter over an area for extended periods, allowing it to provide real-time support, reconnaissance, and strike capabilities to troops on the ground.
  • Image gathering and transmission: It is equipped with a range of sensors and cameras that enable it to gather real-time imagery and transmit it to ground stations for analysis.
  • Its capabilities makes it a valuable asset for military operations, border surveillance, and counterterrorism efforts.

Why India needs Predator drones?

  • Border security:India’s borders often face security challenges, including cross-border infiltration, smuggling, and territorial disputes. Predator drones can provide enhanced surveillance capabilities to monitor border areas, detect threats, and improve situational awareness.
  • Counterterrorism operations: Predator drones can help in counterterrorism operations by conducting surveillance, gathering intelligence, and providing real-time situational awareness to security forces.
  • Maritime security:India has a vast coastline, and ensuring maritime security is crucial for safeguarding its territorial waters, exclusive economic zones, and maritime interests. Predator drones equipped with maritime surveillance capabilities can monitor coastal areas, detect illegal activities such as smuggling and piracy, and support search and rescue operations.
  • Disaster management: India is prone to natural disasters such as floods, earthquakes, and cyclones. UAVs like Predator drones can be utilized for disaster management purposes, including assessing damage, monitoring affected areas, and facilitating relief and rescue operations.
  • Strategic deterrence: The acquisition of advanced UAVs like Predator drones can enhance India's overall defense capabilities and serve as a deterrent to potential adversaries like Pakistan and China.
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