According to government sources, the United States is expected to approve India's request for 22 Guardian surveillance drones just ahead of Prime Minister Narendra Modi's Washington visit on Monday, June 26.
According to reports, the approval came through a year after New Delhi requested for the drones.
While these advanced surveillance drones will help India keep a strict vigil in the Indian Ocean Region, what India really seeks to acquire are combat drones or Unmanned Combat Aerial Vehicles (UCAVs).
The UCAVs are remotely controlled through satellites from thousands of miles away. They are also capable of firing missiles and precision-guided munitions on enemy targets before returning to their home bases to re-arm for the next mission.
The sale of 22 MQ-9B Guardian drones manufactured by General Atomics to India, in what will eventually be a government-to-government deal after the US Congress is first notified and long-drawn bilateral negotiations are then held.
However, the deal will be finalised only when the US Congress gives the acquirement a green signal. The 22 MQ-9B Guardian drones are worth more than 2 billion dollars.
"The US has just responded to our 'price and availability inquiry'. It's early days yet," a source was quoted by the Times of India. Though it is highly doubted that USA will engage in a deal to sell combat or armed drones to India, the dealing in Guardian drones will make it the first country outside the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) alliance to get these drones.