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India Set to Buy $3 Billion Anti-Submarine Warfare Aircraft From US

Sputnik News

11:05 05.09.2019(updated 11:07 05.09.2019)

New Delhi (Sputnik): In a bid to boost its naval surveillance capabilities, the Indian Defence Ministry is expected to give its go ahead to purchase 10 Boeing maritime patrol aircraft worth $3 billion in the coming week.

The plane would be directly purchased from American aviation behemoth Boeing while the weaponry, radar, and other machinery are likely to be procured under the US Foreign Military Sales (FMS) programme, according to sources.

Sources added that the initial approval to the acquisition plan was granted in June this year and next week the Defence Acquisition Council - the ministry's apex decision making body related to procurement - will approve the purchase.

"The Navy is keen to build up a fleet of 22 of these aircraft at the earliest and the contract will ensure a continuous supply over the next four years as older maritime reconnaissance assets (Russian origin) retire", sources said as quoted by The Economic Times.

The long range maritime reconnaissance requirements of the Indian Navy were met by five IL-38SD and five Tu-142M aircraft inducted in 1977 and 1987 respectively. The Indian Navy decommissioned all of the Tu-142Ms last year. However, the IL-38SD will remain operational until 2022-23.

Industry sources said that a final commercial contract could be concluded by 2020. The Indian Navy acquired eight P8I aircraft from Boeing in January 2009 at cost of $2.1 billion. India's Navy will also receive four additional P-8I aircraft starting in 2020 following the approval of a $1 billion contract by the Indian government in 2018.

India's apex auditor CAG - an entity responsible for scrutinising government expenditures - found irregularities in the deal and also observed that the aircraft lacks capability in terms of coverage areas.

"Owing to capability limitations of radars installed onboard, the aircraft is not able to achieve the envisaged coverage area requirements", CAG had said in its report discussed in the Indian Parliament in August 2018. The auditor also said that the anti-submmarine warfare capability of the aircraft could only be partially fulfiled due to the unavailability of certain bombs.

Nevertheless, with the signing of a Communications, Compatibility and Security Agreement (COMCASA) in September 2018, the US Navy said that P-8I aircraft and their US equivalent, the P-8A Poseidon, had begun sharing real-time operational intelligence, including a secure common tactical picture.


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