WASHINGTON: India has asked the United States for Predator Avenger drones, which would allow it to remotely drop a bomb on any square inch of Pakistan, the US media reported on Tuesday.
Bloomberg news service has acquired a copy of a formal request the Indian Air Force sent directly to the manufacturers, the General Atomics Aeronautical Systems, in September.
If the transaction goes through, India will become one of the first countries to buy the casually called ‘killing machines’, Predator Avenger drones.
“The unmanned aircraft … are sleek, fast, killing machines. From New Delhi they could hunt militants across Pakistan, and become a strategic consideration in border standoffs with China,” the report pointed out.
The report pointed out that growing defence ties between the military establishments of the two countries increases the possibility of this sale.
India was the second-largest buyer of US arms in 2014, up from virtually nothing five years ago.
“The Avengers also represent a small but significant tilt in the strategic dynamics of a region with three nuclear powers and about 40 per cent of the world’s population,” the report observes.
The reported notes that on Sept 22, the US backed India’s membership in the Missile Technology Control Regime, a prerequisite for buying the drones. Two days later, India’s Air Force sent a letter to San Diego-based General Atomics saying it wanted to purchase the Avenger.
The Avengers can fly for 18 hours, carry 3,500 pounds of munitions and reach an altitude of 50,000 feet.