and General Atomics didn’t respond to requests for comment. Pentagon officials didn’t respond to a request for comment either.

U.S. Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin is expected to visit India this month, according to local media, while President Joe Biden will soon join counterparts from India, Japan and Australia in the first-ever meeting of the “Quad” bloc. The leaders will meet virtually on March 12, according to an announcement posted on the Indian government’s website, which said they would discuss issues including supply chains, maritime security and climate change.

The MQ-9B drone can fly for about 48 hours and carry a payload of about 1,700 kilograms (3,700 pounds). It will give the Indian Navy the ability to better monitor Chinese warships in the southern Indian Ocean, and equip the army to engage targets along the disputed India-Pakistan border in the Himalayas.

Last year, India leased two unarmed MQ-9 Predators as border tensions with China threatened to spin into a full-blown conflict. In the end they weren’t deployed after the Air Force expressed apprehension about drones manned by U.S. personnel flying over the border.This story has been published from a wire agency feed without modifications to the text. Only the headline has been changed.

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