MQ-9B SkyGuardian a variant of the Predator B Remotely Piloted Aircraft (RPA).
Citing the Indian Today website, the Indian Ministry of Defense could acquire the first batch of six drones that will be used by the Indian Army, Navy, and Air Forces. In the future, India could purchase a total of 30 MQ-9B drones from the United States.
In June 2017, the US State Department approved the sale of 22 drones to India, costing around $2-3 billion As of February 2020, a deal to purchase 30 drones with 10 drones for each of the three Indian armed services, was expected to be signed by the end of the fiscal year.
Citing the Indian Today website, the deal has been in the pipeline for the past three years, first as the sale of 22 Sea Guardians (an unarmed maritime variant of the MQ-9) for the Indian Navy in 2017. This was then converted into a tri-services acquisition by the government in 2018 when the armed version of the MQ-9 was cleared for sale to India by the US.
The MQ-9B SkyGuardian is designed and manufactured by the American company General Atomics Aeronautical, it is the latest variant of the MQ-9 series RPAS (Remotely Piloted Aircraft System ) currently operated by the United States, United Kingdom, Italy, France, and soon Spain, the Netherlands, and Belgium. MQ-9B adds several key enhancements to the proven MQ-9 series allowing for better performance, lower operating and sustainment costs, and access to all classes of airspace.
MQ-9B set an endurance record for GA-ASI aircraft when it flew for more than 48 consecutive hours in April 2017. This is an unprecedented level of endurance which enables the MQ-9B to provide persistent Intelligence, Surveillance, and Reconnaissance (ISR) around the clock with an operating cost well below most manned platforms. MQ-9B has a range of over 6,000 nautical miles and is equipped with nine hard-points for sensor or weapons carriage with over 2,100 kg (4,000 lbs.) of available payload.
The MQ-9B SkyGuardian is capable of all-weather day/night operations. The cold weather engine start capability allows ground operations down to -41°C. MQ-9B is equipped with an Electro-expulsive De-icing system (EEDS) for wing leading edges, anti-ice heated engine inlet, heated pitot tube and static ports, and lightning protection.