Tension with China over the Himalayas: India is closer to approving the purchase of armed drones from the United States

US aviators prepare an MQ-9 Reaper drone (REUTERS/Josh Smith/file) (Josh Smith/)

India is about to approve an agreement to buy drones high altitude weapons to USA in order to counteract the firmer position of China on the disputed border of Himalayasas revealed by people familiar with the matter to the newspaper The Wall Street Journal.

According to information from the American newspaper, the purchase of the advanced drones MQ-9B “Predator” could approved in the coming weeks.

These are unmanned aircraft equipped with war capabilities antisubmarine, as well as anti-ship and ground attack missiles. They can operate at altitudes of more than 12,000 meters and launch sensors or sonobuoys to detect the presence of enemy submarines.

Its acquisition would also boost surveillance efforts of the Indian army in the Indian Oceanwhere China’s naval presence has increased.

If finalized, the agreement would need the approval of the United States and the signing of an agreement between the governments could take months. The deal would make India the first country not a US ally in the treaty to buy the weaponized version of the drones.

New Delhi had originally planned to purchase 30 drones for about 3,000 million dollars. The number could be reduced to between 18 and 24 following a recent assessment by a group made up of representatives of the three military branches, he told the wsj an Indian security official with knowledge of the situation.

The acquisition needs the go-ahead from two government committees, one headed by the defense minister, rajnath singhand the other by the prime minister, Narendra Modi.

So far, the country’s security forces have operated two drones. MQ-9B of a basic version since they were leased from the United States in 2020 after a deadly border clash with China. Aircraft have provided information on the accumulation of troops and infrastructures of China and have played a key role in helping India to plan their countermeasures, according to one of the people with knowledge of the proposed acquisition, who is an Indian security official.

The rented drones have made a total of 10,000 flight hours in the past two years, flying as far as the Gulf of Aden and the South China Sea, according to the official.

Military trucks carrying supplies move towards forward areas in the Indian region of Ladakh (REUTERS/Danish Siddiqui/File photo)
Military trucks carrying supplies advance towards outpost areas in the Indian region of Ladakh (REUTERS / Danish Siddiqui / Archive photography) (DANISH SIDDIQUI /)

The relationships between the India and China were severely damaged after a border clash in the Galwan Valley in June 2020in the western Himalayas, the worst in 45 years among the nuclear powers, in which at least 20 Indian soldiers died and 76 were injured, while Beijing acknowledged four dead and one seriously injured.

Both powers reacted to the confrontation by sending troops to the LAC, the disputed de facto border that divides both countries, triggering military tension in the region before beginning to withdraw troops amid accusations of new military actions and violations over the territory.

New Delhi and Beijing have since tried to resolve the crisis through diplomatic channels.

Both nuclear powers maintain a historic dispute over several regions of the Himalayas, when Beijing claims the Arunachal Pradeshcontrolled by New Delhi, which in turn claims the Aksai Chinadministered by the neighboring country.

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