A $3 billion deal for the purchase of 10 Boeing P-8I maritime patrol aircraft has been approved by the Indian MoD 's procurement committee, along with other defense deals which will bring the total spending to $10 billion are in the pipeline for the next two-three years with the US.
“The procurement case for the 10 P-8I aircraft was cleared by an MoD committee last week. It will now be sent for approval to the Defence Acquisitions Council (DAC) headed by defense minister Rajnath Singh by August. These 10 P-8Is will be more advanced than the 12 such aircraft already procured by India,” TOI reported Monday, quoting sources from the defense ministry as saying.
The P-8I is a customised-for-India version of Boeing's Poseidon P-8 used by the USAF.
Apart from the P-8I-purchase, India also plans to acquire 24 MH-60 Romeo multi-role naval choppers for $2.6 billion, NASAMS–II (National Advanced Surface to Air Missile System-II) for the planned missile shield over capital New Delhi and six additional Apache gunships for $930 million.
It was originally planned to acquire over a dozen Boeing aircraft, but the navy settled for 10 because it also has in its books to procure 30 armed Sea Guardian “hunter-killer” drones from the US for $2.5 billion. The army, navy and the air force will each get 10 of these drones.
India 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. The $2.1 billion deal was inked in January 2009. Four additional P-8Is worth $1.1 billion are scheduled to be delivered to the Indian Navy in 2021-2022, the contract for which was signed in July 2016.
According to the company, the P-8I aircraft is designed for long-range anti-submarine warfare; anti-surface warfare; and intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance missions. It is capable of broad-area maritime, littoral operations, humanitarian and search and rescue missions, etc.
The P-8 also conducts shipping interdiction and early warning self-protection (EWSP) ability which involves carrying torpedoes, Harpoon anti-ship missiles, and other weapons. It is able to drop and monitor sonobuoys. It is designed to operate in conjunction with the Northrop Grumman MQ-4C Triton Broad Area Maritime Surveillance UAV.