India has inducted two predator drones procured on lease from the US early in November, bolstering its surveillance network in Indian Ocean, ANI reported.

The drones were procured mid November under the emergency procurement powers granted by the Minister of Defence.

“The drones arrived in India in the second week of November and were inducted into flying operations on November 21 at Indian Navy base at INS Rajali,” ANI reported quoting a source.

The drones have a flying capability of 30 hours at a stretch. The US vendor will be responsible for maintenance of the equipment while the sortie planning and joystick control will remain with Indian navy personnel. The data gathered during the sorties by the drones will remain exclusive property of India.

ANI reported that the drones are flying in tri-colors and were accompanied by an American crew, likely to provide initial know-how in their operation. The drones have been leased for one year, and India is planning to acquire 18 more such on lease in time for surveillance purposes by the three armed forces. 

India has already acquired nine P 81 long range surveillance planes from the US—built by Boeing—and is planning to acquire another nine of them in next few years. It is also in the process of buying 24 MH-60 Romeos in multirole capability from the country.