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The US State Department has approved a potential Foreign Military Sale (FMS) to India of 31 MQ-9B SkyGuardian remotely piloted aircraft systems (RPAS) and related equipment, the Defense Security Cooperation Agency (DSCA) announced on 1 February.

The sale, which is worth an estimated USD 3.99 billion (EUR 3.7 billion), has been passed to the US Congress for final approval.

As well as various associated avionics systems (including Selex SeaSpray active electronically scanned-array surveillance radars), ground control stations, training and support, the India request features a weapons package that includes 170 AGM-114R Hellfire missiles, 16 M36E9 Hellfire captive air training missiles, 310 GBU-39B/B Laser Small Diameter Bombs (LSDBs) and eight GBU-39B/B LSDB guided test vehicles with live fuzes.

The DSCA stated in its notification, “This proposed sale will support the foreign policy and national security objectives of the United States by helping to strengthen the US-Indian strategic relationship and to improve the security of a major defense partner which continues to be an important force for political stability, peace, and economic progress in the Indo-Pacific and South Asia region.

“The proposed sale,” the DSCA added, “will improve India’s capability to meet current and future threats by enabling unmanned surveillance and reconnaissance patrols in sea lanes of operation.”

The principal contractor for the sale will be General Atomics Aeronautical Systems Inc (GA-ASI) out of its facilities in Poway, California. The DSCA noted, however, that “The purchaser typically requests offsets. Any offset agreement will be defined in negotiations between the purchaser and the contractor.”

India has been approved to buy 31 MQ-9B SkyGuardian RPAS along with a weapon package of Hellfire missiles and laser-guided Small Diameter Bombs. (Photo: GA-ASI)