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PM Modi, General Atomics CEO Vivek Lall meet highlights 'advancing defence manufacturing' in India: all you need to know

·4-min read

Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Thursday met Indian-American Chief Executive of General Atomics Vivek Lall and held talks on strengthening India's defence technology sector, including its strides in drone technology and the path-breaking reforms and the Production-Linked Incentive scheme. General Atomics (GA) is one of the world's leading privately held nuclear and defence companies.

Drone is an upcoming sector in India and it is of particular interest to the youth, Modi said.

General Atomics is already working with both governments in an effort to provide India with the latest systems and technologies supporting national defence, and it has also partnered with Indian companies to develop solutions for Indian defence as well as capacity building. Modi is looking to acquire as many as 30 Predator drones, which are manufactured by General Atomics, to muscle up India's military capability. The meeting was aimed at accelerating the programs.

Here is all you need to know about the technology that India is seeking.

What are Predator drones?

Named as 'MQ-9 Reaper' by the US Air Force and Royal Air Force customers, the Predator B is a Remotely Piloted Aircraft (RPA).

The MQ-9 is the first hunter-killer UAV designed for long-endurance, high-altitude surveillance.

The Reaper has a 950-shaft-horsepower (712 kW) turboprop engine, allowing it to carry 15 times more ordnance payload and cruise at about three times the speed of its predecessor.

The craft can be flown for over 27 hours in the air at a maximum altitude of 50,000 feet.

According to defence contractors General Atomics, the drones possess the capabilities to be used for long-endurance intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance missions over a wide-area. Easy configuration of the drone makes it easier to operate the aircraft during missions.

India's Predator deal

The Predator deal first took root in the erstwhile Trump administration. In 2017, when Narendra Modi had visited the US, the two heads had discussed the deal after the Indian Army had shown interest in purchasing General Atomics Avenger UAV.

However, the deal didn't materialise then.

It was then announced in March of 2021 that the Indian Navy, Army and Air Force would finally jointly procure 30 armed versions of the American unmanned aerial system in what could be a $3 billion deal.

The procurement was being done as India faced a war-like situation on two front -- Pakistan and China.

It's important for India to acquire these armed drones as its own indigenous capability is limited.

Meanwhile, both Beijing and Islamabad operate Chinese-made armed drones. Pakistan is also eyeing to acquire some armed drones from Turkey

What Vivek Lall said

Lall appreciated the recent policy changes to accelerate defence and emerging technology manufacturing and augment capacity building in India in his talks with the prime minister, the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) said in a statement.

They spoke about strengthening the defence technology sector in India, it said.

Lall said India's policies and reforms in the field of drones are laudable.

Sources told News18 that the General Atomics CEO suggested that a dedicated drone hub can be created in India to support the entire eco system of drones. He also appreciated India's space reforms.

India is an attractive destination for manufacturing drones. He also said that a dedicated drone hub can be created in India to support the entire ecosystem of drones, the Indian-American Chief Executive of General Atomics said.

Lall, a prominent Indian-American aerospace and defence expert who played key roles in some of the major defence deals between India and the US, was last year appointed as the Chief Executive of General Atomics Global Corporation at its headquarters in San Diego, California. He has been instrumental in driving major US-India defence deals worth around $18 billion.

In the realm of the Indo-US Defence partnership, he is credited with the bulk of advance technological platforms and weapons acquired by the Indian Armed Forces. While in his role with Boeing India, he was instrumental in bringing Harpoon Missile Systems, 10 C-17 Globemaster, a strategic military transport aircraft, P-8Is (Poseidon Eight India) Long Range Maritime Patrol aircraft, 28 Apache attack choppers and 15 Chinook heavy-lift helicopters to India.

With inputs from PTI

Also See: Predator drones on agenda as Narendra Modi set to meet General Atomics CEO in US

Prime Minister Narendra Modi meets five top American CEOs , encourages them to invest in India

'Furthering friendship': PM Modi meets Japanese counterpart Yoshihide Suga ahead of Quad summit

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