India looks to a fleet of American-made surveillance drones to help it keep an eye on its disputed border with Pakistan. But as Eve Johnson reports, it's also trying to get its hands on an even bigger prize.
A symbol of America's sophisticated military technology - now heading to India. New Delhi's in talks with Washington to buy 40 Predator surveillance drones. And is looking into getting 100 more of the armed version. Boosting its drone fleet is likely to rattle India's neighbours - especially on the disputed border with Pakistan New Delhi bureau chief Doug Busvine explains why. (SOUNDBITE) (ENGLISH) New Delhi Bureau Chief, Doug Busvine saying: 'A surveillance deal would shift the balance of power between India and Pakistan significantly. But the real prize for New Delhi would be to lay its hands on the predator c avenger. That is an armed drone that packs hellfire missiles and other weaponry. It would for example enable India to strike at bases inside Pakistan that India suspects of being involved in training and deploying militants for attacks on its own soil.' And then there's China. Beijing's been stepping up patrols in the Indian Ocean. And wants to keep an eye on China's navy from on high. The drones push comes as U.S. Defense Secretary Ash Carter visits New Delhi for talks with India's top brass. The U.S. and India have been kindling a warm new relationship. Partly as a counterweight to China. And President Obama wants to lock in military cooperation with before he steps down at the end of the year. Indian officials say they'll be bringing up their interest in armed drones with Carter. But finalising that purchase may be some time in coming. The deal would need international clearance, and a stamp of approval from U.S. Congress.