ALSO READModi's US visit: India to get Guardian drones; F-16 jets on agenda too 'US approves sale of 22 Guardian drones to India' Modi-Trump meet: Drone deal to test defence ties that improved under Obama As Modi prepares for Trump meeting, US expected to OK India drone purchase Modi-Trump meet: India's 'major defence partner' status to be put to test
The US has cleared the sale of 22 unmanned Guardian drones to India, governmental sources said on Sunday, a deal being termed as a "game changer" ahead of Prime Minister Narendra Modi's visit in Washington for his maiden meeting with President Donald Trump.
The deal, estimated to be worth $2-3 billion, has been approved by the State Department, the sources said.
The decision has been communicated to the Indian government and the manufacturer by the State Department on Saturday, according to the informed governmental sources.
"This is the first very significant sign of the Trump administration being more result oriented in its relationship with India compared to Obama administration," a source told PTI.
The sources, who requested anonymity as the deal has not been formally announced, said the sale of 22 predator drones being manufactured by General Atomics is "a game changer" for US-India relations as it operationalises the status of "major defence partner".
The designation of India being a "major defence partner" was decided by the previous Obama Administration, and formally approved by the Congress.
The State Department and the White House did not immediately respond to the questions in this regard. An official announcement is expected soon.
Modi's first meeting with Trump has been scheduled to take place at the White House on June 26.
The Indian Navy had made the request for this intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance (ISR) platform last year.
US Aerospace expert Vivek Lall of General Atomics who was pivotal in India acquiring Boeing P8 ISR technology is believed to have played a key role in fast-tracking the decision-making process of the Trump administration.