Fact Check: Is Modi Govt ‘Overpaying’ US For 31 MQ-9B Drones?

New Delhi: A day after Trinamool Congress’ spokesperson questioned purchase of ‘overpriced’ 31 MQ-9B long endurance drones from the US, the Defence Ministry on Sunday said that the cost and other terms and conditions for procurement are yet to be finalised.

It also strongly trashed reports in a section of social media on the acquisition process.

The Ministry, in a statement, described those as “speculative” and being spread with “ulterior motives”. “These are uncalled for, have ulterior motives and aimed at derailing the due acquisition process. The price and other terms and conditions of the purchase are yet to be finalised and subject to negotiations,” it said.

“In this regard, all are requested not to spread fake news/misinformation which can have serious impact on the morale of the armed forces and adversely impact the acquisition process,” it added

Gokhale had earlier alleged in a series of tweet that the $3.1 billion deal signed with USA for the procurement of 31 MQ-9B Predator drones is highly overpriced, just like the Rafle fighter jets. “Why is Modi Govt purchasing overpriced drones from US when cheaper similar versions are available? Whatever happened to “Atmanirbhar Bharat”?” he asked. 

Notably, the Acceptance of Necessity (AoN) for acquisition of 31 MQ-9B long endurance drones was accorded to the procurement by the Defence Acquisition Council (DAC), on June 15. These include 16 Sky Guardian and 15 Sea Guardian long endurance drones from the US.

While the deal is yet to be inked formally, it was part of the joint statement released following a meeting between PM Narendra Modi and US President Joe Biden during his high-profile visit to Washington this week.

“The AoN noted the estimated cost of 3,072 million US dollars provided by the US government. However, price will be negotiated once policy approval of the US government is received. The Defence Ministry will then compare the acquisition cost with the best price offered by General Atomics (GA) to other countries. The procurement is in progress and would be completed as per the laid down procedure,” the PIB added in a release.

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