India looks to buy Predator Guardian drones
India is looking to buy 22 Predator Guardian drones from US for maritime surveillance.General Atomics Aeronautical

India is looking to fast-track a deal that would allow Indian Navy to fly 22 MQ-9 Predator B Guardian drones over Indian Ocean and beyond. The drones are for maritime surveillance and are unarmed variants.

India, according to Reuters, is trying to fast-track the process before US President Barack Obama demits office, amidst US elections uncertainty and the foreign policies of its next President.

"It [the deal] is progressing well. The aim is to complete the main process in the next few months," said one of the officials, speaking on condition of anonymity to Reuters.

Further, India and the US want to cover enough ground before President Obama leaves office. They want to leave the deal is such a way that only the administrative tasks are remaining, the report noted.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi had developed a working relationship with President Obama and the latter's 'Pivot to Asia' strategy seems to have touched the right chords in Indian political establishment.

The US is the top arms supplier to India and is in talks to help India build a new age, heavier tonnage aircraft carrier and a possible US nuclear reactor deal.

However, India fears a new President might not have the same view as that of President Obama and want to do as much as possible.

India was recently accepted in to the Missile Technology Control Regime (MTCR) club, which allows it to get unarmed Predator drones.

Apart from the Guardian drone request in June, India is also interested to buy armed Predator drones. But US export control laws do not allow such sale.

US Defence Secretary Ashton Carter is expected to make his last official India visit towards the year end.

In June, PM Modi had set up a research group with a six-member team in order to identify ways to engage Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump. But the latter's "America First" policy has had Indian foreign policy experts doubtful of him following Obama's policy, especially when it comes to South China Sea or China.

Trump had previously given contradictory messages to India with people worried about his "unpredictability."

Nevertheless, the Indian diaspora in the US has opened its line of communication to both the President's campaign. This reach out is led by Bharatiya Janata Party's Overseas Friends of Modi.

In contrast to Trump, it is more comfortable to reach out to Democratic Presidential candidate Hillary Clinton.

India and the US recently signed a logistics pact which gives each other access to their bases for supplies and refuelling.

Earlier, two US Senators in a letter urged US Secretary of State John Kerry to clear the sale of the 22 MQ-9 Predator B Guardian drones to India, with "utmost urgency."