The U.S. State Department on Friday approved the proposed sale of six P-8I patrol aircraft and related equipment, a deal estimated to cost $2.42 billion.
In November 2019, the Defence Acquisition Council, chaired by Defence Minister Rajnath Singh, approved the procurement of the long-range maritime surveillance aircraft manufactured by Boeing.
The original proposal was for 10 more aircraft but was cut down to six due to budgetary constraints as well as because the Navy had adopted some fleet rationalisation measures and was considering long-endurance unmanned platforms.
The possible sale comes through the Foreign Military Sale route and requires that the U.S. Congress be notified, a process that was completed on Friday. Lawmakers have a statutory 30 days to raise any objections.
“The Government of India has requested to buy six (6) P-8I Patrol aircraft; eight (8) Multifunctional Information Distribution System-Joint Tactical Radio Systems 5 (MIDS-JTRS 5) (6 installed, 2 spares); forty-two (42) AN/AAR-54 Missile Warning Sensors (36 installed, 6 spares); and fourteen (14) LN-251 with Embedded Global Positioning Systems (GPS)/Inertial Navigations Systems (EGIs) (12 installed, 2 spares). Also included are CFM56-7 commercial engines; Tactical Open Mission Software (ITOMS) variant for P-8I; Electro-Optical (EO) and Infrared (IR) MX-20HD; AN/AAQ-2(V)l Acoustic System; ARES-1000 commercial variant Electronic Support Measures; AN/APR-39D Radar Warning Receiver; AN/ALE-47 Counter Measures Dispensing System; support equipment and spares; publications; repair and return; transportation; aircraft ferry; training; U.S. Government and contractor engineering, software, technical, and logistics support services; and other related elements of logistical and program support,” the State Department said in a statement on Friday.
The Indian Navy is currently in the process of inducting the four P-8Is contracted under the offset clause in 2016. The Navy had procured eight P-8Is in a $2.2-billion deal in 2009 with the optional clause for four more. The aircraft are part of the 312A Naval Air Squadron based at Arakkonam in Tamil Nadu.
With India having signed the Communications Compatibility and Security Agreement (COMCASA) foundational agreement with the U.S., the six aircraft will come fitted with encrypted systems, as reported by The Hindu earlier. These systems were replaced with commercial off-the-shelf systems in the earlier deals.
The P-8I is based on the Boeing 737 commercial aircraft and India was its first international customer.