According to The Diplomat, the Indian Government had expressed interest in purchasing an unarmed naval variant of the Predator already before 2015. However, the United States rejected India’s request because the country was neither member of the Missile Technology Control Regime (MTCR) nor did it enjoy Major Defense Partner (MDP) status.
Now, the US Government has approved the deal, which is valued at over $2 billion. The deal, still pending congressional approval, would be the first such purchase by a country that is not a member of the NATO alliance. With these new UAVs, India seeks to protect its maritime assets, in particular in the Indian Ocean, and detect intrusions on a real-time basis.
Next to the threat of terrorism emerging from the maritime domain, India has been in particular concerned about the growing Chinese naval presence in the Indian Ocean.