Aerostructures manufacturing deal could smooth path to Indian MQ-9B purchase
General Atomics Aeronautical Systems (GA-ASI) has announced a strategic partnership with India's Bharat Forge to manufacture aerostructures for its remotely piloted aircraft.
Under the deal, the Indian company will manufacture main landing gear components, subassemblies and assemblies.
The manufacturing agreement is likely tied to India's tri-service intentions to acquire the GA-ASI MQ-9B.
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In November 2020, the Indian Navy leased two MQ-9B Sky Guardians on a one-year contract. This lease deal was later extended to mid-2024.
In the same year, Delhi revealed plans for a tri-service acquisition of 30 MQ-9Bs, which would see the Indian Army, Navy and Air Force receive ten aircraft apiece.
The US government has agreed to sell aircraft to India twice, first in 2016 under the Obama presidency and then again in 2018 under the Trump administration.
Shephard Defence Insight forecasts that the Indian procurement of 30 MQ-9Bs will be worth around $1.51 billion.
The agreement between GA-ASI and Bharat Forge could ease the procurement effort, helping satisfy India's 'Make In India' defence policy.
General Atomics chief executive Dr Vivek Lall said the UAV maker was 'looking forward' to working with Bharat Forge, adding that the Indian firm's expertise was globally recognised.
GA-ASI said it was confident the collaboration would result in 'significant' capability building for both companies and 'provide an impetus' to India's large UAS industry.
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