Northrop Grumman is pitching its MQ-4C Broad Area Maritime Surveillance (BAMS) unmanned aircraft system to the Indian navy.
Earlier this year the company responded to an Indian request for information for a high-altitude, long-endurance UAS issued in October 2010, said an industry source.
In US Navy service BAMS is planned to work closely with the Boeing P-8A Poseidon maritime patrol aircraft. At a seminar about BAMS hosted by Northrop for members of the Indian military, possible co-operation between BAMS and the Indian navy's future P-8I aircraft was a point of discussion.
India's first of eight P-8Is recently entered final assembly at Boeing's Renton factory. The company has also proposed a variant of the 737-based P-8I for India's medium-range maritime reconnaissance aircraft requirement.
New Delhi is increasingly turning to unmanned systems to patrol its vast ocean frontiers, which include the Arabian Sea, Indian Ocean and Bay of Bengal. In January the Indian navy stood up its second UAS squadron, which will operate Israel Aerospace Industries-supplied Herons and Searcher IIs over the northern Arabian Sea.
In March, Israeli sources told Flightglobal that India's navy has operational requirements for additional systems made by IAI, potentially including improved Heron or Heron TP systems carrying maritime sensor payloads. Evaluations using some systems have already been carried out.
Northrop plans to roll out the first MQ-4C in early 2012, with the first flight to occur around the middle of the same year.
One stumbling block in a potential BAMS sale to India could be the international Missile Technology Control Regime, although India is not a signatory.
Source: Flight International