US okays sale of 31 predator drones to India; hails ties with India
The countries broke new grounds in the weapons deal during last year's state visit by Prime Minister Narendra Modi at the invitation of US President Joe Biden
The Pentagon has notified the US Congress of the sale of 31 armed MQ-9B SkyGuardian drones to India, six years after New Delhi began talks with Washington over the deal.
The countries broke new grounds in the weapons deal during last year's state visit by Prime Minister Narendra Modi at the invitation of US President Joe Biden.
The 31 Predator drones, related missiles and equipment will be sold to India for nearly $4 billion, the Pentagon added.
It also announced on Thursday that the US "Defense Security Cooperation Agency delivered the required certification notifying the (US) Congress of this possible sale.
Though the sale still needs approval by the US Congress, that wouldn't be a major hurdle since most lawmakers favour strong relations with India.
However, several members, especially on the left of Biden’s Democratic Party, have criticised Modi’s record on human rights.
The Pentagon's notification also means that the deal managed to overcome a hindrance, approval by leaders of U.S. congressional committees.
The deal also marks a shift in India's reliance on Russia, its principal weapons supplier for decades. Russia has supplied 65% of India's weapon purchases totalling over $60 billion over the past two decades.
India and the United States have also signed an agreement with General Electric to produce jet engines in India for its fighters, marking the first such concession by the U.S. to a non-ally country.
Plans have also been made for the U.S. to "accelerate" technology cooperation and joint production in various areas, from air combat to intelligence.
Meanwhile, hours after it notified the Congress of its decision to sell 31 armed drones to India at an estimated cost of nearly USD 4 billion, the State Department also termed America's partnership with India as among the most consequential ones.