2 SeaGuardian Drones Arrive On Year-Long Lease With Indian Navy

Two U.S. General Atomics MQ-9B SeaGuardian intelligence-surveillance-reconnaissance drones arrived at the Arakkonam naval air station in India’s Tamil Nadu state earlier this month to boost the Indian military’s surveillance sweep amidst a live military confrontation with China in Ladakh and the need for elevated surveillance over the Indian Ocean.

Livefist can confirm that the two SeaGuardians have been flying sorties over the Bay of Bengal. Leased directly from General Atomics under emergency procurement rules necessitated by the Ladakh situation, the pair of drones are only a fraction of the 22-30 such dones, including armed versions, that the Indian military has been looking to procure since the Obama Administration.

The SeaGuardian drones under lease by the Indian Navy aren’t weaponised, though the type is capable of being configured for anti-surface warfare, anti-submarine warfare and the airborne anti-mine capability.

In a statement last month to announce the start of validation flights of the SeaGuardian in Japan, General Atomics said, “The SeaGuardian RPAS features a multi-mode maritime surface-search radar with Inverse Synthetic Aperture Radar (ISAR) imaging mode, an Automatic Identification System (AIS) receiver, a High-Definition – Full-Motion Video sensor equipped with optical and infrared cameras. This sensor suite, augmented by automatic track correlation and anomaly-detection algorithms, enables real-time detection and identification of surface vessels over thousands of square nautical miles.”

Specifically, the SeaGuardian’s onboard sensors included the GA-ASI Lynx® Synthetic Aperture Radar (SAR), a Raytheon Intelligence & Space SeaVue Expanded Mission Capability (XMC) radar, a Raytheon Intelligence & Space Multi-Spectral Targeting System, a Leonardo Electronic Support Measure (ESM)/Electronic Intelligence (ELINT) SAGE 750, a Shine Micro Automatic Identification System (AIS), an Ultra sonobuoy receiver and a General Dynamics Mission Systems-Canada sonobuoy processor.

In September off the coast of Southern California, the SeaGuardian, a derivative of the Predator platform, underwent its first test flights configured for surveillance operations over open-water, serving to demonstrate MQ-9B capabilities in the maritime environment.

It is possible that the Indian Navy deployed one of the leased SeaGuardians during this month’s two-phase Malabar naval exercise that involved India, the US, Japan and Australia, though this couldn’t be confirmed. The drones arrive well after India signed the Communications Compatibility and Security Agreement (COMCAS) with the United States, paving the way for export controlled communication equipment held off earlier military hardware like the Indian Navy’s Boeing P-8Is and Indian Air Force’s C-130J and C-17 aircraft.

The drones also arrived shortly after India and the U.S. managed to nail down the last of the foundational military cooperation agreements, the Basic Exchange and Cooperation Agreement for Geo-Spatial Cooperation (BECA).

1 thought on “2 SeaGuardian Drones Arrive On Year-Long Lease With Indian Navy”

  1. Hello Shiv,

    I always considered you as the best defense journalist in India, As you get the important and most informative articles in this area. However, now a days I see you correcting others i.e difference between pictures and what that is. I think you forgot that you became better from the rest by doing what you do best. It feels like you are now on a teaching path and sometimes it comes out really rudely. Frankly it comes out like you are the only one in India who can correct. Personal opinion, focus on your own stuff and you are already going places. I would request you to get more info on some long pending stuff I.e. KALI, RUSTAM(When it’s going to be inducted). Passenger Aircraft by NAL, Rudra and the list goes on.

    Just a FAN who doesn’t think you are on the right path.

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