India is in talks with the United States to purchase 40 Predator surveillance drones, according to a report by news agency Reuters.
India is trying to equip the military with more unmanned technologies to gather intelligence as well as boost its firepower along the vast borders with Pakistan and China. It also wants a closer eye on the Indian Ocean.
The push for the drones is seen as a a possible first step towards acquiring the armed version of the aircraft. It comes as US Defense Secretary Ash Carter heads to India this weekend for talks to cement military collaboration in the final months of the Obama administration.
The navy wants them for surveillance in the Indian Ocean, where the pilotless aircraft can remain airborne for 35 hours at a stretch, at a time when the Chinese navy is expanding ship and submarine patrols in the region.
The Indian Air Force has also asked Washington about acquiring around 100 armed Predator C Avenger aircraft, which the United States has used to carry out strikes against militants in Pakistan's northwest and neighbouring Afghanistan.
But it would need clearance from the Missile Technology Control Regime group of 34 nations as well as approval from US Congress before any transfer of lethal Predators could happen, officials said.
Indian military officials said they expected the request for the armed aircraft to figure in Mr Carter's talks with Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar.
Ejaz Haider, a Pakistani security analyst, said Islamabad would object to the transfer of such drones in the region.
But he questioned their effectiveness if they entered Pakistani air space, since it would probably try to shoot them down, something it did not do with US drones.