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In 2017, the Indian Air Force (IAF) set its sights on acquiring armed unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs), specifically the General Atomics Predator C Avenger. This potential deal, estimated at a staggering $8 billion, involved 80 to 100 Avenger drones for the IAF.

The request came during the Trump administration, following a productive meeting between Prime Minister Narendra Modi and President Donald Trump in June 2017. Interestingly, this meeting also saw the US approve the sale of 22 unarmed Guardian drones to India, bolstering the Indian Navy’s surveillance capabilities in the Indian Ocean region.

General Atomics was keen on the deal as Predator C Avenger was developed using internal funds of the company and had no backing from the USAF but the company still required backing of the US Goverment and Congress for the deal to go through but many in trump administration were jittery to grant export permission for sale of Stealth UCAVs.

However, despite the positive momentum between the two nations, the US ultimately denied India’s request for the armed Avenger drones. The exact reason for the refusal remains undisclosed but it has been speculated that the deal might have been called off since IAF wanted ToT of the UCAVS with local production in the country since order size could have been in three digits and not limited to off the shelf purchase .