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MQ-9B Drones UPSC NOTE

 

MQ-9B HALE Unmanned Aerial vehicles (UAV)
  • India plans to procure General Atomics MQ-9B High Altitude Long Endurance (HALE) Unmanned Aerial vehicles (UAV) from U.S.

  • The MQ-9B has two variants — the SkyGuardian and the SeaGuardian.

  • This sets the stage for the acquisition of 31 of these armed UAVs, 15 SeaGuardians for the Indian Navy and 16 SkyGuardians — eight each for the Indian Army and Air Force.

  • The MQ-9B is designed to fly over the horizon via satellite for up to 40 hours, depending on configuration, in all types of weather and safely integrate into civil airspace.




  • For instance, the SeaGuardian configuration can include

    • A 360-degree surface-search maritime radar.

    • Automatic identification system.

    • Sonobuoy monitoring system.

    • Sonobuoy dispensers for persistent anti-surface and anti-submarine warfare missions.

  • MQ-9B can provide roughly 80% of the capability of a large human-flown maritime patrol aircraft at about 20% of its cost per hour.


  • That makes it much more economical for navies to, 

    • For example, send out SeaGuardians to clear big volumes of air or sea and then, if anything of interest is discovered, vector in a human-crewed aircraft to save it the time, cost, and wear that it otherwise might have expended.

  • It significantly reduces the wear and tear on manned aircraft.



  • Its fleet of 12 P-8I long range maritime patrol aircraft, as well as reduce crew fatigue in keeping an eye over the wide expanse of the Indian Ocean Region and beyond.

  • For the Army and Air Force, the MQ-9Bs can provide round-the-clock surveillance looking far beyond the borders 

  • For instance on the movement of Chinese military buildup and troop movement along the Line of Actual Control (LAC) and deep inside. 


  • It also seamlessly integrates with other U.S.-origin platforms that India operates, the P-8Is, AH-64 Apache attack helicopters, MH-60R multi-role helicopters among others expanding MQ-9B’s multi-domain mission set.

What UAVs are already in service?

  • The Indian Navy has leased two MQ-9As from General Atomics with the maiden flight taking place on November 21, 2020. 

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