|By Air Marshal Anil Chopra (Retd)||Revealed: January 2021|
New Delhi. Two Basic Atomics “Predator B” drones, additionally known as the MQ-9 Reaper Sea Guardian, have been leased by Indian Navy in November 2020 from the US Navy for prolonged surveillance within the Indian Ocean. These drones are working from INS Rajali close to Arkonnam on India’s East Coast. It’s the identical base from the place the Indian Navy’s P-8I Anti Submarine Warfare (ASW) are working.
The Sea Guardians are underneath the operational management of Indian Navy personnel and all information acquired is for Indian retention. The technical upkeep help for these is being offered by the technicians from Basic Atomics, the producer. These drones have 30 hours endurance, and are already deployed on operational missions. In view of the standoff with China in Ladakh, it’s potential to make use of them within the Himalayas additionally.
The 2 MQ 9B drones are for familiarisation and coaching of Indian Navy personnel, and might be returned when an settlement of 30 such plane is reached between India and the US. Initially, the Indian Navy needed greater than 20 of those programs however later, the Ministry of Defence agreed to provide 10 every to the Indian Navy, Military and Air Pressure as every of those three Providers staked their claims on these extremely refined machines. In truth, initially the discussions between the 2 international locations was for unarmed drones however in 2017, throughout Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s go to to Washington, the request for armed drones was positioned earlier than the US Authorities and President Donald Trump acceded to the Indian request.
The US Authorities had by then declared India a Main Defence Associate (MDP).
The ball is now within the courtroom of Indian Ministry of Defence, and it’s understood that the joint proposal from the three Providers for 30 MQ-9Bs, with related capabilities, is prone to be cleared for procurement quite quickly. Chief of the Air Workers has described this drone as a excessive precedence asset whereas the Chief of Naval Workers has indicated that the clearance from the MoD – or the Acceptance of Necessity (AON) – needs to be anticipated any time. After all, as many gadgets are wanted, the Ministry’s Division of Defence Finance has to accord price range priorities according to varied different calls for of the three Providers.
The MQ-9B, or Reapers, might be a big addition to India’s Intelligence Surveillance Reconnaissance (ISR) Unmanned Lengthy Vary Assault (ULRA) functionality.
The precise specs and phrases are being developed, however they are going to be frequent to the three Providers.
The grapevine is that the Ministry of Defence is about to accord its approval ASAP within the coming conferences of its Defence Acquisition Council (DAC). This must be adopted by a Letter of Request (LoR) to the US Navy and Division of Protection to formally provoke the method, and the US would then reply with a Letter of Acceptance (LOA). The in-principle settlement already exists.
It is very important perceive the technical and operational capabilities of the drone.
MQ-9 Reaper in USAF
The Basic Atomics MQ-9 Reaper (Predator B) was developed as a remotely managed or autonomous flight operations platform initially for the US Air Pressure (USAF). The MQ-9 is the primary hunter-killer UAV designed for long-endurance, high-altitude surveillance. USAF began getting the preliminary Reapers in 2001. In 2006, the then Chief of Workers of the US Air Pressure Basic T. Michael Moseley mentioned: “We’ve moved from utilizing UAVs primarily in intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance roles earlier than Operation Iraqi Freedom, to a real hunter-killer position with the Reaper.”
In 2008, USAF fashioned the primary MQ-9A Reapers unmanned fight aerial car (UCAV) unit.
The USAF then sought the Predator B to supply an improved “lethal persistence” functionality, flying over a fight space night-and-day ready for a goal to current itself, complementing piloted assault plane, usually used to drop bigger portions of ordnance on a goal, whereas a less expensive RPV can function nearly repeatedly utilizing floor controllers working in shifts, however carrying much less ordnance. It could fireplace Lockheed Martin’s Hellfire missiles with lethal precision.
Current firing trials of the Reaper’s 9B variant have been extraordinarily profitable.
From- March 2011, the US Air Pressure was coaching extra pilots for UCAVs than different platforms. The USAF operated 195 MQ-9 Reapers as of finish 2016. One other 16 extra have been accredited by US Congress in December 2020 for subsequent three years, and plans are to maintain the MQ-9 in service effectively into the 2030s.
MQ-9 Specs and Basic Traits
The Predator is 36 ft 1 in (11 m) lengthy, has a wingspan of 65 ft 7 in (20 m), and top of 12 ft 6 in (3.81 m). Empty weight is 4,901 lb (2,223 kg) and max take-off weight is 10,494 lb (4,760 kg).
The plane is powered by one Honeywell TPE331-10 turboprop, with 950 horsepower (710 kW) with Digital Digital Engine Management. The larger energy permits the Reaper to hold 15 occasions extra ordnance payload and cruise at about thrice the velocity of the predecessor MQ-1. It has a most velocity of about 480 km/h and a cruising velocity of 280–310 km/h. Most velocity is 482 km/h, and cruise velocity is 313 km/h.
The exterior gasoline tanks with gasoline weigh 450 kg, and improve endurance to max 42 hours. It has a variety of 1,900 km, and endurance of 14 hours when absolutely loaded. The service ceiling is 50,000 ft (15,420 m).
There are 7 hard-points that carry as much as most payload of 1,700 kg; 680 kg on the 2 inboard weapons stations, 340 kg on the 2 center stations, and 91 kg on the outboard stations. As much as 4 AGM-114 Hellfire air-to-ground missiles might be carried together with two 500 lb (230 kg) GBU-12 Paveway II laser-guided bombs.
The drone also can carry the AIM-9 Sidewinder, and the GBU-38 Joint Direct Assault Munition (JDAM), and Raytheon’s AIM-92 Stinger Air-to-Air missile.
In September 2020, a Reaper was flown carrying two Hellfire missiles on every of the stations beforehand reserved for 500 lb bombs or gasoline tanks. A software program improve doubled the plane’s capability to eight missiles.
MQ-9 Reaper Operations
MQ-9 Reaper crew contains Pilots, Sensor Operators and Mission Intelligence Coordinators, are usually stationed at far off areas within the Floor Management Station (GCS), and might hunt for targets and observe terrain utilizing a number of sensors, together with a thermo-graphic digicam, and launch weapons. It’s reported that the on-board digicam is ready to learn a license plate from practically 3 km away. The operator’s command takes little over a second to succeed in the drone by way of a satellite tv for pc hyperlink.
The bottom management stations have user-friendly video game-like controllers and touch-screen maps to entry information with out overwhelming the mission operators. The UCAV might be transported in a C-17 Globemaster III, and on touchdown they are often prepared for operations in eight hours.
Unmanned Suppression of Enemy Air Defences
The ADM-160 MALD and MALD-J have been built-in onto the Reaper for an unmanned suppression of enemy air defences functionality. The MQ-9 can be outfitted with a jamming pod and a Radar Warning Receiver (RWR) to detect threats.
Its Raytheon AN/AAS-52 multi-spectral concentrating on sensor suite features a color/monochrome daylight TV, infrared, and image-intensified TV with laser rangefinder/laser designator to designate targets for laser guided munitions. The plane can be outfitted with the Lynx Multi-mode Radar that accommodates Artificial Aperture Radar (SAR) that may function in each highlight and strip modes, and floor shifting goal indication (GMTI) with Dismount Shifting Goal Indicator (DMTI) and Maritime Vast-Space Search (MWAS) capabilities.
Its ARGUS-IS, awide-area surveillance sensor system has a protection space of as much as 100 Sq km. The system has 368 cameras able to capturing 5 million pixels every to create a picture of about 1.8 billion pixels. The video is collected at 12 frames per second, producing a number of terabytes of information per minute.
On October 28, 2007, an MQ-9 had achieved its first “kill”, efficiently firing a Hellfire missile in opposition to Afghanistan insurgents within the mountainous area.
Among the many many international customers of Predator are Australia, the Dominican Republic (underneath US funding), France, Italy, Morocco, Netherlands, Spain, and United Kingdom. In case of Belgium, Taiwan and United Arab Emirates, the offers are at ultimate stage of processing.
In June 2017, the US State Division accredited the sale of twenty-two drones to India, costing round $2-3 billion. In November 2020, the Indian Navy started working two leased MQ-9B SeaGuardians. The lease settlement is legitimate for one yr. The IAF and Indian Military are prone to get the SkyGuardian, additionally known as the Certifiable Predator B.
The Indian Navy would require the SeaGuardian which is actually the identical with Multimode 360 Maritime Floor Search Radar and Automated identification system (AIS). The MQ-9B could have some India particular programs.
The Reaper, which has recurrently been upgraded with newer developments, might be a giant strategic and formidable functionality for the Indian forces to thwart and neutralise hostile challenges.