Documents obtained by the British news agency show that India banned the use of Chinese components for the production of military UAVs because of security concerns.

India is in the process of modernizing its military. It is expected to use more quadruple unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs), as well as long-lived flying vehicles and other similar platforms.

As Indian industry looks to meet the needs of the military, some defense and industry officials say security leaders are concerned about the risk of intelligence being gathered from other parts of the country—communication, camera, radio transmission and control software, including products originating from China.

Minutes of a meeting on UAV tenders in February and March, published by Reuters on August 8, said Indian officials told potential bidders that they would “not accept equipment or components from countries having land borders with India for security reasons”.

Indian tender documents say such components have security holes compromising important military data. This document also requires suppliers to notify the source of the component.

India shares land borders with Pakistan, Afghanistan, China, Nepal, Bhutan, Myanmar and Bangladesh. A senior Indian defense official said “land border neighbors” is a euphemism for China. This person said that the Indian industry depends on China despite cyberattack concerns.

The Indian Defense Ministry has not commented on the information. Previously, the US Congress in 2019 banned the Pentagon from buying or using UAVs or related components of Chinese origin .

India spends about $19.7 billion on military modernization programs for 2023-2024, 75% of which is allocated to domestic industry. Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s government seeks to build UAV capacity to thwart external threats.

However, India depends on foreign manufacturers in the field of UAVs because it has not mastered the technology to manufacture some models and components. India’s domestic UAV development programs are being delayed for various reasons, including a lack of suitable engines.

India plans to buy about 31 US MQ-9 UAVs for more than three billion dollars to fill the gap. In addition, the Indian Navy in November 2020 received two leased MQ-9B aircraft from the US.