India on 27 July 2016 signed a one-billion dollar deal with the US defence and aerospace major Boeing for procuring four long-range maritime surveillance and anti-submarine warfare aircraft, Poseidon-8I. First of the four new P-8I aircraft will be delivered in 50 months. Incidentally, India is P-8I's first international customer and was also Boeing's first military sale to India. The contract was inked during the on-going visit of the USunder secretary for defence on Acquisition Frank Kendall. The contract is a follow-on order to eight P-81 planes worth 2.1 billion dollars deal inked in 2009, already bought by India in a direct deal with the firm. These aircrafts were inducted by the Navy between May 2013 and October 2015.
• P-8I is the Indian Navy variant of the P-8A Poseidon of the US Navy developed by Boeing.
• It was formerly called the Multi-mission Maritime Aircraft and is based on Beoing’s Next-Generation 737 commercial airplane.
• The long-range maritime reconnaissance aircraft has a maximum speed of 907 kmph and an operating range of 1200 nautical miles.
• P-8Is will provide the reach and flexibility to undertake extensive maritime surveillance and intelligence-gathering missions.
• It is currently extensively being used in search of AN 32 aircraft that went down in the Bay of Bengal with 29 defence personnel on board on 22 July 2016.
• The Navy is already using the eight P-8Is, armed with deadly Harpoon Block-II missiles, MK-54 lightweight torpedoes, rockets and depth charges, to keep an "intelligent hawk-eye" over the entire IOR.
India-US defence ties
The agreement will further expand and strengthen the ever engaging defence ties between India and the US. With this deal, the US has emerged as the biggest supplier of military hardware. The total value of defence deals signed with the US in the last decade comes to around 15 billion dollars.
India in 2015 signed a 3 billion dollars contract with the US through Foreign Military Sales route for 22 Apache and 15 Chinook helicopters. India is also working on a deal to get 145 pieces of M777 light-weight howitzers from the US.
Already Indian navy is using Boeing’s eight P-8I that are armed with deadly Harpoon Block-II missiles, MK-54 lightweight torpedoes, rockets and depth charges to keep monitor the entire Indian Ocean Region (IOR). The acquisition will enhance the Indian Navy’s surveillance powers in the IOR.