India on Wednesday signed an over USD 1 billion deal with American defence and aerospace major Boeing for procuring four additional ‘Poseidon-8I’ long-range maritime surveillance and anti-submarine warfare aircraft.
The contract is a follow-on order to eight P-81 planes already bought by India in a direct deal with the firm worth USD 2.1 billion, defence sources said.
The contract was inked during the ongoing visit of US Under Secretary for Defence on Acquisition Frank Kendall, and is seen as a sign of growing Indo-US defence ties, they said.
India had last year signed a USD 3 billion contract with the US through Foreign Military Sales route for 22 Apache and 15 Chinook helicopters.
With today’s deal, the total value of defence deals signed with the US in the last one decade comes to around USD 15 billion.
India is also working on a deal to get 145 pieces of M777 light-weight howitzers from the US, the sources said.
The acquisition of additional ‘P-8I’ will be a shot in the arm of the Indian Navy as the country has been building up its naval surveillance capabilities.
Armed with deadly Harpoon missiles, lightweight torpedoes, rockets among others, the Navy is extensively using the P-8I to keep a strict vigil over the Indian Ocean, which has seen numerous Chinese submarine forays, including docking of a nuclear sub in Sri Lanka.
The Navy will also be able to drop and monitor sonobuoys, being used in the search for the missing AN32 aircraft of the Indian Air Force, they said.
Incidentally, India was ‘P-8”s first international customer and was also Boeing’s first military sale to India.
The P-8I fleet is based at the Naval Air Station Rajali in Tamil Nadu. The long-range maritime reconnaissance aircraft has an operational speed of 450 miles per hour and a range of 4,500 nautical miles.
The planes will provide strategic blue water and littoral undersea warfare capabilities as well as armed intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance to the navy, the defence sources added.
Based on Boeing’s Next-Generation 737 commercial airplane, P-8I is the Indian Navy variant of the P-8A Poseidon that the American defence has developed for the US Navy.