Amid a strong push by Prime Minister Narendra Modi government for ‘Make in India’ in defence, the Defence Ministry has formed a committee under a three star-rank officer to decide on the curtailed deal for buying predator drones from the US. As per the plans, India was earlier planning to acquire 30 of these high-altitude long-endurance drones equipped with strike capability, including missiles, which were to be equally distributed among the three services. “A committee has been formed under a Lieutenant General-rank officer of the Integrated Defence Staff headquarters to decide on the number of Predator drones that the three services should buy to meet their requirements till the time indigenous development of similar equipment can be done,” government sources told ANI. Sources said the three services have requirements for these drones which can be used for surveillance as well as attacking enemy targets from standoff distances.
Almost all the defence deals planned through the import route had either been scrapped or put on hold by the Defence Ministry on the directions of the Prime Minister’s Office in favour of indigenous weapon systems. India is operating two predator drones which were hired on lease from an American firm and they have been helping the Navy to keep track of activities in the Indian Ocean Region. The movement of Chinese research vessels and Anti piracy Escort Force is also constantly monitored by the two drones acquired on lease from the Americans. India has acquired 12 American P-8I anti-submarine warfare and surveillance planes for keeping an eye on the IOR and was working on getting six more of these planes. However, after the government’s instructions on import programmes, the government would soon decide on the project too shortly. In line with the Prime Minister’s directions, the Indian Navy is now charting an indigenous roadmap for all its requirements of weapon systems and equipment. PM Modi has been giving a lot of stress on indigenisation and also recently told armed forces and other stakeholders that only made in India systems can provide them with unique solutions. (ANI)