ANI Photo | President Biden, PM Modi welcomes India’s plans to procure Predator drones

US President Joe Biden and Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Thursday welcomed India’s plans to procure Predator drones made by General Atomics, a mega pact that will allow American Navy ships to undertake major repairs at Indian shipyards.
President Biden and Prime Minister Modi welcomed India’s plans to procure General Atomics MQ-9B HALE UAVs. The MQ-9Bs, assembled in India, will enhance the ISR capabilities of India’s armed forces across domains. As part of this plan, General Atomics will also establish a Comprehensive Global MRO facility in India, read US-India joint statement.
The agreement would strengthen India’s national security and surveillance capabilities, extending beyond the Indian Ocean and encompassing the border region with China.
General Atomics is a defence and diversified technologies company that produces a series of unmanned aircraft (drones) and provides electro-optical, radar, signals intelligence, and automated airborne surveillance systems.
India shares vast maritime and land boundaries with two major adversaries — Pakistan and China — and requires constant monitoring of their activities to safeguard its national security interests.
The Predators, also called the MQ-9 Reaper, can fly up to 36 hours at a stretch and can be used for focused monitoring of any specific point or area of interest.
As many as 31 Predator drones, to be acquired by India from the US soon, would be operated by the tri-services jointly.
Speaking to ANI, a senior defence official said, “The decision to buy 31 (Predator or Reaper) drones for taking care of complete surveillance requirements was taken after a scientific assessment.”
“The Predator drones would be operated by a joint tri-services command, which will include officers and men from all three services. The tri-services headquarters also sent the proposal in this regard to the defence acquisition council,” the official said.
Indian personnel would also, very soon, be provided training to deal with the ground-station equipment and the birds, both in both India and the US where it is manufactured.
Both leaders welcomed the setting up and launch of the US-India Defense Acceleration Ecosystem (INDUS-X).
As a network of universities, startups, industry and think tanks, INDUS-X will facilitate joint defence technology innovation and co-production of advanced defence technology between the respective industries of the two countries, added the statement.
President Biden and Prime Minister Modi also hailed the landmark signing of an MoU between General Electric and Hindustan Aeronautics Limited for the manufacture of GE F-414 jet engines in India, for the Hindustan Aeronautics Limited Light Combat Aircraft Mk 2, added the statement.
GE Aerospace on Thursday announced that it had signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with HAL to produce fighter jet engines for the Indian Air Force.
The US company said that the MoU with HAL to produce fighter jet engines for IAF is a major milestone amidst PM Modi’s official state visit to the United States and a key element in strengthening defence cooperation between the two countries.
President Biden and Prime Minister Modi affirm that technology will play a defining role in deepening our partnership.
The leaders hailed the inauguration of the Initiative on Critical and Emerging Technology (iCET) in January 2023 as a major milestone in US-India relations, added the statement.
They called on governments, businesses, and academic institutions to realize their shared vision for the strategic technology partnership.
The leaders recommitted the United States and India to fostering an open, accessible, and secure technology ecosystem, based on mutual confidence and trust that reinforces our shared values and democratic institutions.
President Biden and Prime Minister Modi hailed the signing of an MoU on the Semiconductor Supply Chain and Innovation Partnership as a significant step in the coordination of our countries’ semiconductor incentive programs, read the joint statement.
This will promote commercial opportunities, research, talent, and skill development.
The leaders welcomed an announcement by Micron Technology, Inc., to invest up to USD 825 million to build a new semiconductor assembly and test facility in India with support from the Indian government.
The combined investment valued at USD 2.75 billion would create up to 5,000 new direct and 15,000 community jobs opportunities in the next five years, added the statement.
Both President Biden and Prime Minister Modi acknowledged the profound opportunities and significant risks associated with AI.
They committed to developing joint and international collaboration on trustworthy and responsible AI, including generative AI, to advance AI education and workforce initiatives, promote commercial opportunities, and mitigate against discrimination and bias, added the statement.
The United States also supports India’s leadership as Chair of the Global Partnership on AI.
The leaders applauded Google’s intent to continue investing through its USD 10 billion India Digitization Fund, including in early-stage Indian startups. Through its AI Research Center in India, Google is building models to support over 100 Indian languages.

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