India has decided to resume its medium-altitude long-endurance (MALE) armed Predator-B drone plan and conveyed its renewed interest to the US after China has decided to give four armed drones to the Pakistan after the recent Ladakh standoff between India and China in Galwan Valley.
The medium-altitude long-endurance (MALE) armed Predator-B drone is not only an attack drone that is armed with missiles and laser-guided bombs, but can also collect intelligence through surveillance and reconnaissance and destroys the target.
While the Indian Navy is already in negotiations with the US for an unarmed naval variant, it is been decided that an all-in-one attack drone with both surveillance and attack capabilities makes more sense given the current hostilities from the neighbouring country on the Eastern border.
The US has been using the MALE armed Predator-B piloted-drone also known as the MQ-9 Reaper in Iraq, Afghanistan and Syrian. The drone carries four Hell-Fire missiles and two 500 pounds of laser-guided bombs.
While India is in process of developing its own indigenous attack drone, China's push to supply four armed drones to Pakistan has prompted India to source counter drones from the US.
Reports suggest that China is supplying these drones to protect the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor and the Gwadar port. China is also jointly developing GJ-2 drones, the military version of Wing Loong II, to supply exclusively to Pakistan Air Force.
The Wing Loong II strike drone is a commercially available drone that China is selling to several countries in Asia. According to the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI) arms transfer database, 163 unarmed aerial vehicles (UAV) has been delivered to atleast dozen countries including Kazakhstan, Turkmenistan, Algeria, Saudi Arabia and United Arab Emirates.