Photo General Atomics

India’s Ministry of Defence (MoD) issued a letter of request (LoR) to the United States on 17 June to procure 22 multi-mission General Atomics Guardian unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) for the Indian Navy. The Guardian is a maritime variant of the Predator B. India is requesting the sale of these drones via the Foreign Military Sales (FMS) route.

The move follows India’s application to join the 35-nation Missile Technology Control Regime (MTCR). The Guardian will offer the Indian Navy an extended range capability, with platform carrying heavier payloads, (alas, on shorter missions, compared to the Heron currently used by the Indian Navy). India is also seeking to but the Israel Aerospace Industries Heron-TP, whose export was limited by MTCR ruling. Earlier this month India also expressed interest in acquiring the General Atomics Avenger C turbofan propelled semi-stealthy drone for its air force.

On June 27, 2016 India gained admission to the MTCR, a group that is aimed at preventing the unchecked proliferation of missiles and their delivery systems. The MTCR restricts the proliferation of missiles, rocket systems, unmanned air vehicles, or drones, and technology for systems capable of carrying a 500-kilogram (1,100-pound) payload for at least 300 kilometers (185 miles), as well as systems intended for the delivery of weapons of mass destruction.

Designed for reconnaissance and strike missions the Avenger can carry payloads weighing 2.9 tons in internal and external loads. While the Avenger’s endurance Is shorter than that of the Guardian, it has a higher cruising speed thus capable of covering a larger mission area.