Cong shoots off questions to Centre over predator drone deal

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The Congress on Wednesday posed several questions to the BJP-led central government over procurement of MQ-9B Predator UAV drones from the US, and demanded complete “transparency” in the deal.

“There is one Defence deal which is now under the radar. The people of India need answers on the US$ 3.072 billion (Rs 25,200 crores at current conversion levels) deal for 31 MQ-9B Predator UAV Drones manufactured by only one entity – General Atomics,” said Congress spokesperson Pawan Khera, referring to Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s recent US visit.

He claimed that several countries have bought these MQ-9B predator drones or very similar variants at a lower price than India.

“Why is India paying more than the price for a drone, as compared to other countries? Why are we paying the highest price for a drone, which does not have AI integration?,” Khera asked.

The Congress spokesperson said, ‘National Security is paramount for the Congress party. We demand complete transparency in this predator drone deal. India needs answers to the crucial questions. Otherwise, we will be trapped in another ‘scam’ under the Modi government.”

Attacking the ruling dispensation, Khera said, “Modi government is known to jeopardise national interests – and the people of India have witnessed the same in the ‘Rafale’ deal, where it bought only 36 Rafale jets instead of 126. We also saw how HAL was denied Transfer of Technology. We also saw how several unilateral decisions were made, despite widespread objections from the Defence Acquisition Committee and the Armed Forces. Rafale scam is still under scrutiny in France.”

Echoing similar sentiment, Congress MP Jairam Ramesh in a tweet wrote, “Once again a ‘murky’ defence deal undercutting indigenous efforts with the PM at the centre comes to the fore.”

On June 26, Defence Minister Rajnath Singh while rejecting ‘speculative” reports on the price and other terms of purchase of MQ-9B drones from the US, had stated that the Ministry of Defence will compare the acquisition cost of the drones with the best price General Atomics (GA) offered to other countries.

He added that the acquisition will be made only by following the established procurement procedure.

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