US approves $4 billion drone sale to India for maritime security needs

WASHINGTON (AP) — The Biden administration on Thursday approved a nearly $4 billion sale of drones and military equipment to India that are meant to be used to improve its maritime safety and surveillance.

The approval comes at a time when Washington is courting New Delhi to increase its cooperation with the U.S. Indo-Pacific strategy, which is largely focused on countering China’s influence in the region.

The State Department notified Congress of the $3.99 billion sale that will include 31 Sky Guardian drones, 170 Hellfire missiles, 310 small-diameter bombs and related support material.

“This proposed sale will support the foreign policy and national security objectives of the United States by helping to strengthen the U.S.-Indian strategic relationship and to improve the security of a major defense partner which continues to be an important force for political stability, peace, and economic progress in the Indo-Pacific and South Asia region,” the department said in a statement.

It “will improve India’s capability to meet current and future threats by enabling unmanned surveillance and reconnaissance patrols in sea lanes of operation,” it said, adding that India “has demonstrated a commitment to modernizing its military and will have no difficulty absorbing these articles and services into its armed forces.”

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