How deadly is the MQ-9B Sky Guardian drone that India gets from US?

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Washington. The 30-day period for the US Congress to review the deal ended on Friday. After this, the way is now clear to take the next step to sell 31 MQ-9B Sky Guardian armed drones along with ammunition to India. These armed drones are for intelligence gathering, surveillance, reconnaissance and land, air and sea warfare. India has two of these drones – MQ-9A – from manufacturer General Atomics on a company-lease and operation basis.

The estimated cost of the complete package of drones along with ammunition that India has demanded will be $ 3.99 billion. The drones will come with 161 embedded global positioning and inertial navigation systems; 35 L3 Rio Grande Communications Intelligence Sensor Suite; 170 AGM-114R Hellfire missiles; 16 M36E9 Hellfire Captive Air Training Missiles; 310 GBU-39B/B laser small diameter bombs and eight GBU-39B/B LSDB guided test vehicles with live fuse.

The proposed sale of these drones will be announced by Prime Minister Narendra Modi in Washington D.C. in June 2023. During the visit, it was done by US President Joe Biden. The administration notified Congress of the deal on February 1, as must be the case for all military exports of a certain value. MPs will be given 30 days to raise objections to the proposed deal, assuming there is no opposition to it.

“The congressional review period will end at the end of the 30th calendar day after the notification and media announcement are posted,” a US official said. After the release of the letter from the State Department, India’s next step is to give a formal letter of acceptance to the US on this matter. The announcement of the general election is not likely to pose any final legal hurdles. The model code of conduct comes into force when elections are announced.

The Model Code of Conduct issued by the Election Commission of India states, “The Code of Conduct does not apply to any matter relating to the Defense Forces, be it recruitment/promotion to the Defense Forces, any service matter relating to them, any Be it defense procurement, tenders related to defense forces matters and hence there is no need to send any reference to the Election Commission in such matters.”