Amid claims that the valuation of the drone deal announced with the US was on the higher side, the Ministry of Defence (MoD) on Sunday clarified that the price, $3,072 million quoted by the Biden administration for 31 MQ-9B unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) to India, is not final and would be negotiated before inking the pact.

The Defence Acquisition Council (DAC), on June 15, accorded the Acceptance of Necessity (AoN) for the acquisition of 31 MQ-9B, 16 Sky Guardian and 15 Sea Guardian high altitude long endurance (HALE) remotely piloted aircraft systems (RPAS) for tri-services from the US through ‘Foreign Military Sale (FMS)‘ route, said the MoD.

This was done to complete the initial procurement formalities so that the announcement could happen during Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s recently concluded visit to the US.

FMS route

The MoD emphasised that the “price will be negotiated once policy approval from the US government is received” and the government will also “compare the acquisition cost with the best price offered by General Atomics (GA) to other countries”.

“Under the FMS route, a Letter of Request (LOR) would be sent to the US government, in which the tri-services’ requirement, details of equipment and terms of the procurement would be included. Based on the LOR, the US government and MoD will finalise the Letter of Offer and Acceptance (LOA) in which the details and terms would be negotiated and finalised...,” read the MoD’s detailed clarification.

Meanwhile, the Press Information Bureau (PIB) said it ran a fact-check and found that the claim of a Twitter user that the government is overpaying for the US drones was “misleading”. The MoD said such uncalled-for social media reports have “ulterior motives and are aimed at derailing the due acquisition process”.