ON FRIDAY, the U.S. State Department announced the approval of the proposed sale of six P-8I patrol aircraft and related equipment, a deal estimated to cost $2.42 billion.
The Defense Security Cooperation Agency said that it delivered the required certification to the U.S. Congress on 30 April.
As part of the proposed sale, India would also buy several subsystems, some seemingly intended for previously ordered examples of the P-8I. The Indian Navy bought eight P-8I aircraft in 2009 and contracted for four more aircraft in 2016.
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.
“This proposed sale will support the foreign policy and national security of the United States by helping to strengthen the U.S.-Indian strategic relationship and to improve the security of a major defensive partner, which continues to be an important force for political stability, peace, and economic progress in the Indo-Pacific and South Asia region,” says the Defense Security Cooperation Agency in an online notice.
The original proposal was for ten more aircraft but was cut down to six due to budgetary constraints as well as because the Indian Navy had adopted some fleet rationalisation measures and was considering long-endurance unmanned platforms.
The $2.42 billion estimated costs is on the highest end of what Delhi would pay, as Foreign Military Sales approvals account for a range of equipment options that are not ultimately included in the final purchase agreement.
The sale of the additional P-8Is to India is also not certain, as the country’s government may not give final authorisation. However, if the deal did go through, India would have 18 maritime patrol aircraft and become the 737NG-based jet’s second-largest operator behind the U.S. Navy (USN). The USN has 109 P-8A Poseidon in service, with another 18 on order.
In addition to the Indian Navy and the USN, the P-8 is operated by the Royal Australian Air Force and the U.K.’s Royal Air Force. The Royal New Zealand Air Force, Royal Norwegian Air Force and South Korean Navy have also selected the P-8A as their next maritime patrol aircraft.
Check out Naval Library App to find out the specifications of the P-8I Maritime Patrol Aircraft.