The Indian Navy has earlier shown interest in acquiring six to eight of the maritime variants of the US high altitude, long endurance (HALE) Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAV) for extended ocean surveillance. The drones have been upgraded as the MQ-4C Triton maritime surveillance platform for the U.S. Navy, providing real-time intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance over vast ocean and coastal regions.
The Global Hawk has been deployed by the U.S. in Japan, and the U.S. this week approved the sale of four Global Hawks to South Korea. Australia and Japan too have expressed interest in these drones, though Australia later backed out because of the high price.
If the deal goes through, it will be a huge force multiplier for the Indian military in carrying out round-the-clock surveillance of terrorist movements across the border or tracking suspicious vessels in the open seas. Apart from the UAVs, both sides are also working to conclude final negotiations of the $2.5 billion helicopter deal for 22 Apache attack helicopters and 15 Chinook heavy lift helicopters, sources said.