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A shadow of uncertainty hangs over the highly anticipated deal for 31 MQ-9A Sea Guardian and Sky Guardian drones between India and the US, with reports suggesting a potential Congressional block due to alleged Indian involvement in attempts to harm CIA assets and a pro-Khalistani extremist. While both sides officially maintain that the deal is not yet formally suspended, the whispers of blockage raise significant questions and concerns.

According to sources, the US Congress might have put the brakes on the drone deal, citing India’s alleged connection to threats against American personnel and a known extremist. However, Sources close to the deal offer conflicting reports. While “The Wire” reports a Congressional blockade, others suggest no official notification has reached India. This ambiguity fuels speculation about the deal’s fate and the true nature of US concerns.

Defence Analyst Ranesh Rajan told “This isn’t the first time the U.S. has held back on drone exports to India. In 2017, India’s desire to purchase Predator C “Avenger” drones faced roadblocks due to Missile Technology Control Regime (MTCR) regulations and U.S. congressional concerns. India, recognizing the importance of stealthy Unmanned Combat Aerial Vehicles (UCAVs) for deep strike capabilities, has long sought to acquire such technology”.

If the MQ-9A deal does fall through, it would represent a significant setback for both the US and India. For the US, it would impede their efforts to strengthen military ties with India and limit their potential arms sales, impacting their economic goals as well. For India, this would mean a delay in acquiring advanced drones crucial for bolstering its deep strike capabilities and enhancing its overall defensive prowess.

This potential roadblock might push India towards diversifying its military procurements, potentially pursuing collaboration with other countries like France or Israel to co-develop weapons systems. While such alternative partnerships could hold promise, their feasibility and timeline remain uncertain.

The fate of the drone deal hangs in the balance. Open communication and diplomatic efforts will be crucial in clarifying the situation and determining the future course of action. Whether the deal goes through with modifications or falls through entirely, its repercussions will be felt in the security landscape of the Indo-Pacific region and beyond.

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