In a major move to bolster the capabilities of the Indian Armed Forces, India has started the process to acquire six more long-range Poseidon-8I (P-8I) aircraft from the United States at a cost of around $1.8 billion, reports Times of India.
Built by US-based aerospace giant Boeing, India already has eight of the P-8I aircraft which are actively being used for surveillance missions over the Indian Ocean.
The P-8I aircraft are also being used in the eastern Ladakh sector for surveillance of Chinese activities amid ongoing tensions at the Line of Actual Control (LAC).
The Indian Navy had first ordered eight of these aircraft in 2009 at a price of $2.1 billion. Later in July 2016, a $1.1 billion deal was inked for four more of these planes. The delivery of the same is set to begin by December later this year.
Apart from these 12 P-8I, the process for procuring six more such aircraft has been started by India, with a ‘letter of request’ being issued to the US for a government-to-government deal under the Pentagon’s foreign military sales (FMS) programme.
The P-8I aircraft are packed with radars and electro-optic sensors besides being armed with Harpoon Block-II missiles and the MK-54 lightweight torpedoes.
The P-8I is a customised-for-India version of Boeing’s Poseidon P-8 used by the U.S. military. The Indian Navy has 8 P-8I aircraft armed with sensors, Harpoon Block-II missiles, MK-54 lightweight torpedoes, rockets and depth charges to detect and destroy enemy submarines.
In mid-April, the U.S. State Department approved India’s $155 million requests to buy 10 Harpoon Block II air-launched missiles and 19 MK 54 lightweight torpedos to arm the Navy’s Poseidon planes.
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