India seeks armed drones from US to counter Pakistan's Burraq

Published: November 10, 2015
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A US predator drone. PHOTO: AFP

A US predator drone. PHOTO: AFP

India is seeking to become one of the first countries to import armed predator avenger drones from the United States in an apparent attempt to counter Pakistan’s indigenously developed armed drone Burraq.

Manufactured by General Atomics Aeronautical Systems Inc the unmanned aircraft are sleek, fast, killing machines which could strike targets across Pakistan and other neighbouring countries besides becoming a strategic consideration in border standoffs with China, according to Bloomberg.

Why Pakistan’s first drone strike should worry Obama

If approved, the drones would be another sign of the growing defence ties between Washington and New Delhi. India was the second-largest buyer of US arms in 2014, up from virtually nothing five years ago.

“It’s actually quite amazing how quickly the Indian-US relations have developed. Within a few years India has embraced US weapons and America is now supplying India with very advanced military technology,” Siemon Wezeman, a researcher at the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute, said.

With Pakistan’s increasing reliance primarily on its indigenously built and up to some extent Chinese or Russian-made defence equipment the Avengers represent a small but significant tilt in the strategic dynamics of a region with three nuclear powers and about 40 per cent of the world’s population.

In a first, ‘Burraq’ strikes in Shawal Valley

In September, the US reportedly backed India’s membership in the Missile Technology Control Regime, a prerequisite for buying the drones, followed by a letter from the Indian Air Force to San Diego-based General Atomics, conveying its willingness to purchase the Avenger.

The Avengers can fly for 18 hours, carry 3,500 pounds of munitions and reach an altitude of 50,000 feet which will surpass Pakistan’s more limited in range and payload drone series.

“The drones, which can reach anywhere in Pakistan, obviously can heighten the tensions and increase the risk of a conflagration,” said defence analyst Lt-Gen (retd) Talat Masood.

In night-time debut, Burraq takes out several ‘terrorists’

India’s drone inventory currently comprises mostly surveillance-only models made by Israel but with the acquisition of armed drones India could be more likely to strike in Pakistan to retaliate after any terrorist attack which leaders in New Delhi immediately blame on Islamabad.

In July, the Pakistan Army claimed to have shot down an Indian ‘spy drone’ in Azad Jammu & Kashmir (AJK), in a sign of the decades-old tension between the nuclear-armed neighbours in the disputed region. “The spy drone was being used for aerial photography,” military’s media wing, ISPR, said.

India believes acquiring the armed drones will send a strong deterrent to any militants across the border. “Once people across know that they can be struck from the air without India thinking too much that there would be a pilot who may get shot down, that sends a deterrent,” Manmohan Bahadur, a retired India Air Force officer and a member of the Centre for Air Power Studies in New Delhi, said.

However, Bahadur stressed that such drones would not “be used as a free for all”. “This border is a contested air space that you’re talking about.”

Pakistan is not Myanmar, Nisar warns India

The sale of Predator Avenger to India may not be carried out any time soon as it requires New Delhi to become a member of the Missile Technology group of 34 nations that have common rules for exporting weapons systems and the bloc’s annual meeting concluded on October 9 without India being named a member.

Meanwhile, US officials “remain steadfast” in supporting India’s membership, Helaena White, a US State Department spokesperson, said on November 5. As to India buying the Avenger, White said, “I can’t speculate on a hypothetical request.”

This article originally appeared on Bloomberg.

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Reader Comments (49)

  • Logic
    Nov 10, 2015 - 3:10PM

    Why do these US and Indian analysts think that Pakistan will let them do what they want? Recommend

  • STRANGER
    Nov 10, 2015 - 3:34PM

    Pakistan getting advance in technology indigenously and india seeking US help… Interesting.Recommend

  • TiffinBox
    Nov 10, 2015 - 3:40PM

    @Logic, you are funny.Recommend

  • Rollin & Trollin
    Nov 10, 2015 - 4:14PM

    Gotta love this: first the headwobblers discredit Pakistan’s drones, now they’re running scared to the US !Recommend

  • karachiite
    Nov 10, 2015 - 4:17PM

    If our current governments hadn’t been corrupt they’d have put money into lobbying and we’d have been able to counter India from getting into this group. Anyway, kudos to Pakistan Army for once again being a source of pride as we can see Indian army playing catch up with our superior forces and their weaponry.Recommend

  • wb
    Nov 10, 2015 - 4:19PM

    Indegenous…LOLRecommend

  • Raisani
    Nov 10, 2015 - 4:20PM

    These toys can’t frightened us. India must know. Recommend

  • Aslum
    Nov 10, 2015 - 4:26PM

    Look at the Indian obsession with Pakistan. Recommend

  • junaid
    Nov 10, 2015 - 4:38PM

    I think Pakistan should officially consider the US as enemy if they supply this technology to India.Recommend

  • pak47
    Nov 10, 2015 - 4:40PM

    I thought Indians say their competition is with China and not Pakistan. What happened now ?Recommend

  • Nov 10, 2015 - 4:51PM

    One must know that Antonym of Pakistan is Indigenous. Recommend

  • ABC
    Nov 10, 2015 - 4:55PM

    India has to beg to US in order to counter Pakistani technology. It made my dayRecommend

  • someone
    Nov 10, 2015 - 4:57PM

    @STRANGER:
    whenever Pakistan develops something “indigenous”, it is applied that it is Chinese. Pakistan consider them part of China already.Recommend

  • Kamal
    Nov 10, 2015 - 5:16PM

    Somethings that Pakistanis must know.
    1. Indians have had the 600 years Muslim rule become part of their DNA. Their bluster is nothing but nervousness about the possibility of being overwhelmed again. Whether from the West or from the North (China).
    2. Basically their mild an subservient character when facing the ‘Gora’ sahibs have made them their favorite.
    3. They use the Chinese countering bogey to play on the US insecurites. Which will be fine for a while but will backfire when China turns the economic and political screws on them.
    4. Now that Pakistan has torn up the Simla Agreement the Indian diplomats are having sleepless nights again after a relative calm since 1971.
    5. Agni V, VI, MMXX, etc is an overkill for PAkistan. And it will not dilute Pakistan’s Mutually Assured Destruction policy.
    6. And finally, India’s population, endemic poverty, caste system will not let it be more than a Regional power.Recommend

  • Vectra
    Nov 10, 2015 - 5:19PM

    Pakistan drone Buraq has limited range,duration and payload and predator avenger dwarfs the Buraq drone in size,range,duration and payload.Buraq is a small drone.India has its own drone MALE UAV which will make it 1st flight next month or so.The size of MALE UAV is big similar to Predator but with double propeller and its pics shows MALE UAV has 3 hard points under its each wing.
    India is building 2 types of big drones:
    One is based on Turboprop i.e MALE UCAV and tuhe other is based on Kaveri Turbofan i.e AURA UCAV similar to B-2 Bomber in design.Both these are giant drones and due their size,complex design and technology used they take longer time time to built.When these two indigenous UCAV come to service this will give more headache to pakistan while this predator purchase from US seems a gap filling measures. Recommend

  • sabi
    Nov 10, 2015 - 5:42PM

    @wb
    On this one i agree. We should not make outlandish claims that Pakistan can produce drones ” indigenously” and India can’t. We make ourselves laughing stock to the rest of the world.
    In fact being little bit honest about our extremely limited technological capabilities may be the first step in improving things in Pakistan.Recommend

  • Mast Kalandar
    Nov 10, 2015 - 5:42PM

    @karachiite – dont you think you talk like “Alice in Wonderland”!!! if your analysis had an iota of truth in it, why couldnt you take back Kashmir from us till date ???Recommend

  • pakka indian
    Nov 10, 2015 - 5:47PM

    @Raisani:
    The toys are not meant to frighten you; they are meant to play with you. We are, after all, playing your game!Recommend

  • Akbar
    Nov 10, 2015 - 6:01PM

    Pakistan literally begged & pleaded for US drones when US drones were targeting militants in Pakistan. US declined.

    Now US is willing to sell the drones to India.US drone technology is cutting edge & Chinese drones are plastic toys in comparison.

    Pakistan must demand equal treatment.Recommend

  • Chauhan
    Nov 10, 2015 - 6:02PM

    @Rollin & Trollin:
    Stop with this head wobbling rubbish
    Its only Tamils who do this not all Indians.Recommend

  • ajeet
    Nov 10, 2015 - 6:09PM

    @STRANGER:
    We know that China has bought Pakistan, but it still doesn’t make the repainted drone indigenous as Pakistan still proclaims itself an independent country from the outside. Once Pakistan is completely purchased by China, then all Chinese repainted items can be called indigenous. Recommend

  • ajeet
    Nov 10, 2015 - 6:11PM

    @Aslum:
    Or is it the reverse? Any Pakistani newspaper has more articles on India than on Pakistan. We are just trying to help Pakistani population get the news without the deep state propaganda slant.Recommend

  • whatever
    Nov 10, 2015 - 6:13PM

    Pakistanis are forcibily adding Burraq to news to get some brownie points and highlight the china made drone else there is no match of AvengerRecommend

  • iPaki..
    Nov 10, 2015 - 6:26PM

    You’re working hard to get a better sleep, Neighbor!
    No matter what steel cages you make for yourself or U.S. Ammunition to throw your poor people’s money at. A Good Night Sleep… will still be a million miles away & getting farther by the day!
    Recommend

  • cautious
    Nov 10, 2015 - 6:30PM

    Pakistan has been seeking armed drones from the USA for over a decade – anybody can do that. Whether the USA grants the request is the issue. It’s a smart/strategic move by India and sends a chilling message to Pakistan. USA drones combined with satellites is a game changer.Recommend

  • Jameel ur Rasheed
    Nov 10, 2015 - 6:32PM

    Editor clearly thinks of a drone as some kind of subpoena which will be dispatched to Pakistan in case of an attack on Indian soils, allegedly planned from Pakistan. No sir, it’s not. Further, does not the editorial over signifies the attributes of drone for cross border raids when it would fail to detect and preclude terrorists from crossing the borders in first place? For Pakistan and India, it’s never the risk of life of one pilot but the risk of going nuclear that prevents the war.Recommend

  • Another Indian
    Nov 10, 2015 - 7:06PM

    @Chauhan.. So what do you wobble?Recommend

  • DudeFromDC
    Nov 10, 2015 - 7:46PM

    Where did they get the idea that it is to counter Pakistani drones?Recommend

  • sabi(real)
    Nov 10, 2015 - 7:55PM

    @sabi:
    you go to any length to appease Indians.Check your comments.Recommend

  • curious2
    Nov 10, 2015 - 8:16PM

    Even the thought of an India/USA military alliance has to be a nightmare for Pakistan – can you image the combo of drones, strategic defense initiative, high tech weapons (that work), and diplomatic/economic clout? On the bright side – might finally shine some reality onto the situation and bring peace to the region.Recommend

  • Skywalker
    Nov 10, 2015 - 8:21PM

    @DudeFromDC:
    Beacuse its all about me – PakistanRecommend

  • brar
    Nov 10, 2015 - 8:25PM

    @Kama Some times u say 1000 years Muslims ruled India decide it once for all and also name those rulers except Mougals and Turaqs and also listen what your own intlactuals say about it.Recommend

  • charles
    Nov 10, 2015 - 8:32PM

    @Jameel ur Rasheed:

    For Pakistan and India, it’s never
    the risk of life of one pilot but the
    risk of going nuclear that prevents
    the war.

    Maybe .. but neither India or Pakistan is going to launch nukes because of a drone strike and that’s the issue. USA drones provide the ability to strike with lethal/limited force anywhere inside Pakistan – that’s an effective weapon which makes terrorist like Saeed vulnerable.
    .
    I would argue that if India had eliminated Saeed via drone right after the Mumbai attack India/Pakistan current relations would likely be better than they are now.Recommend

  • Nadeem
    Nov 10, 2015 - 10:07PM

    When Indian failed in utilizing the Israily drones , at last they requested USA to supply them drones .Till they get the Avenger which i doubt that General Atomic Aeronautical system Inc. would give India same quality of Drones as they give to USA army, Pakistan would have more sanguine drones,which are in the pipeline.

    Do you believe Pakistan already exporting its indigenous drones to America and other countries.Is India going to make a request to pakistan?? Recommend

  • iNtellect
    Nov 10, 2015 - 10:18PM

    @brar:
    “intellectuals” that are paid by you to say favorably toward India? Yes, we know them!Recommend

  • salman
    Nov 10, 2015 - 11:16PM

    lol India getting paranoid over Pakistan taking lead in drone technology Recommend

  • Nov 10, 2015 - 11:37PM

    @Kamal: Brother why did you submit that India is a regional power. It spoiled your entire rhetoric. Do it again but with suggested corrections and also add bellicose statements like Pakistan is launching an interplanetary mission to Uranus!Recommend

  • Ravi
    Nov 11, 2015 - 12:29AM

    @STRANGER: You are on the internet go check Chinese CH3 drone and look at Burrq, you would know how much indigenous?Recommend

  • iCopy
    Nov 11, 2015 - 12:45AM

    U.S. made high price drone, if shot down will result in a million more poor going hungry in India for ten years to buy another. Which is not the same for the indegenous Pak Burraq . btw, I’m still surprised why a Mars Satellite maker can’t make a drone… I bet it’s not easy to steal hi-tech from drone co’s, is it? Lol! Recommend

  • ajeet
    Nov 11, 2015 - 1:14AM

    @Chauhan:Recommend

  • Tommy Gunn
    Nov 11, 2015 - 2:20AM

    Since when is a third rated chinese developed drone become “indigenous” to Pakistan? FYI, just assembling that peice of junk in Pakistan & giving it a muslim name does not make it indigenous.Recommend

  • True
    Nov 11, 2015 - 3:10AM

    @iPaki..:
    And in the mean time let’s worry about the last instalment of Kerry-Lugar bill. May be let’s call for a debate in Parliament……Recommend

  • VIVEK YADAV
    Nov 11, 2015 - 6:02AM

    @STRANGER Indigenous technology ?!! don’t make me laugh. Burraq is an exact copy of China’s CH-3 UAV . Just google both names and check for yourself .Recommend

  • IA
    Nov 11, 2015 - 6:32AM

    The analysts can babble all they want but these slowflying drones are no match for the Pakistan army. As soon as they enter pakistani airspace from India then they will be hunted down and shot into pieces. This has been done before. Any missilie launch from these drones on to Pakistani soil mean an agressive resopnse by PAF, which in turn will enter India and drop bombs on Indian military targets and cycle of violence will increase. For India to have these drones do not mean any advantage militarily against Pak, only another destabilization factor. India is not a ‘USA’ in it’s relations and might against Pakistan !Recommend

  • Pramod Joshi
    Nov 11, 2015 - 8:38AM

    This article from Bloomberg is edited version keeping Pakistan readers in mind. It has some added inputs too. For instance below are few lines edited out for obvious reasons

    “Pakistan has at least one drone series capable of carrying out strikes. They are thought to be developed by China and more limited in range and payload than the Avenger.
    In the opposite direction, India has had a series of standoffs with China. The more advanced capability of the Chinese military to respond to any strikes, though, makes the drone’s presence more of a deterrent to both sides to tamp down on disputes.”Recommend

  • Alien1
    Nov 11, 2015 - 9:13AM

    chinese built drone and renaming it will not make it indigenous, pakistan is struggling to even build a satellite dish for dish tv it is being imported from china.Recommend

  • Nov 17, 2015 - 4:37PM

    I want to assure Indians that when India will receive predator drones…till that time Pakistan would have developed burraq 2 ….and there will be no difference between predator and burraq2……anyway, indians are liars because there are no anti-india elements in pakistan…on the other side at the pak-afghan border, terrorists came from afghanistan…and they are eliminated now.Recommend

  • iRepeat
    Nov 17, 2015 - 8:22PM

    @Pramod Joshi: Sir, U.S. long range and high payload drones are only good for her because of her need and permission from friendly countries. You can’t bomb in Pak or China with drones, neither do surveillance, can you? That will be an all out war. Better use jets and bombers… atleast to prepare for that outcome. Drones are good for very long distance surveylance like U.S. had from it Air Craft Career at Sea. We are next door to you, for God Sake. Thats why we made 60km and 200km battalion vaporizing nukes. Our Drones are for Terrorist crossing on Western Border. You did try that Walmart Drone Sir, and saw its fate.
    @Sami Shahid: Superb!Recommend

  • Nov 18, 2015 - 12:21AM

    @Pramod Joshi:
    burraq is developed by pakistani NESCOMRecommend

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