Navy to get 4 more P-8I aircraft from May

A file photo of Boeing P-8I landing at the Naval Air Station Rajali near Chennai  

The Navy will start receiving four more P-8I long-range maritime reconnaissance Anti-Submarine Warfare aircraft from Boeing from this May and the process will be completed by January 2022, according to Navy sources.

“These aircraft will also be in the same configuration as the earlier eight aircraft. Plans are on to install encrypted communication systems on the earlier ones,” a Navy source said.

These systems are available to India following the conclusion of the foundational agreement Communications Compatibility and Security Agreement (COMCASA) with the US.

In November 2019, the Defence Acquisition Council, chaired by Defence Minister Rajnath Singh, approved the procurement of six additional P-8I aircraft. These aircraft, for which the deal is being processed, would come fitted with the encrypted systems as and when they are delivered.

The Navy had procured eight P-8Is in a $2.2 billion deal in 2009. The aircraft are part of the 312A Naval Air Squadron based at Arakkonam in Tamil Nadu. In 2016, the Navy exercised the optional clause for four more P-8Is in a deal worth over $1billion.

“We have operationalised COMCASA and already exchanging information,” the source stated on the status of implementing the agreement. India had created created a common account of $5 mn., from which deductions would be done for services or information sought from the U.S. under COMCASA.

In March 2019, the Indian and U.S. navies signed a loan agreement and installed two Pacific fleet provided CENTRIXS (Combined Enterprise Regional Information Exchange System) kits at the Indian Navy headquarters and discussions are on for more systems to be installed in a variety of places. These kits enable encrypted communications between the navies, enabling Maritime Domain Awareness (MDA), a key focus area between the two countries.

The original proposal was for 10 more aircraft but it was cut down to six due to budgetary constraints and the Navy adopting some fleet rationalisation measures.

The P-8I is a long range maritime surveillance aircraft based on Boeing 737 commercial airliner and India was its first international customer.

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Printable version | Jun 24, 2021 10:24:10 PM |

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