US offers India armed version of Guardian drone: Sources

US offers India armed version of Guardian drone: Sources

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The United States has offered India the armed version of Guardian drones that were originally authorised for sale as unarmed for surveillance purposes, a senior US official and an industry source told Reuters.

If the deal comes to fruition, it would be the first time Washington has sold a large armed drone to a country outside the NATO alliance. It would also be the first high-tech unmanned aircraft in the region, where tensions between India and Pakistan run high.

US President Donald Trump's administration had in April rolled out a long-awaited overhaul of US arms export policy aimed at expanding sales to allies, saying it would bolster the American defense industry and create jobs at home.

The plan included a new drone export policy that allowed lethal drones that can fire missiles, and surveillance drones of all sizes, to be more widely available to allies.

One administrative hurdle to the deal is that Washington is requiring India to sign up to a communications framework that some in New Delhi worry might be too intrusive, the U.S. official said.

The drones were on the agenda at a canceled meeting between Indian and the U.S. ministers of state and defense that was set for July, the sources said. The top-level meeting is now expected to take place in September.

Last June, General Atomics said the US government had approved the sale of a naval variant of the drone. India h...

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