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India confirms AoN to acquire 31 MQ-9Bs

India is planning to equip its navy with 15 MQ-9B SeaGuardians while its army and air force could receive eight SkyGuardians each. (General Atomics)

The Indian government has accorded an Acceptance of Necessity (AoN) for the procurement of General Atomics Aeronautical Systems Inc (GA-ASI) MQ-9B high-altitude long-endurance (HALE) remotely piloted aircraft systems (RPAS).

India's Ministry of Defence (MoD) said on 25 June that the country's Defence Acquisition Council (DAC) had accorded the AoN on 15 June to acquire 31 MQ-9Bs for the three services of the military. According to the statement, 16 of the aircraft to be acquired are SkyGuardians and 15 are SeaGuardians. The announcement was made via state-owned information network Press Information Bureau (PIB).

Janes understands that the acquisition will provide the Indian Army and the Indian Air Force with eight SkyGuardians each. The Indian Navy is to operate all 15 SeaGuardians.

The aircraft are to be acquired through a Foreign Military Sales (FMS) programme, the MoD said. The AoN also includes associated equipment acquisitions. According to the MoD, the US government has cited an estimated price of USD3.072 billion for the aircraft and equipment.

“However, price will be negotiated once policy approval of the US government is received,” the MoD said. “The Ministry of Defence will compare the acquisition cost with the best price offered by GA-ASI to other countries. The procurement is in progress and would be completed as per the laid down procedure.”

As part of the FMS, a letter of request (LoR) will be sent to the US government, the MoD said. The letter will state the requirements of the navy, air force, and army; details of equipment; and terms of procurement.

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