Indian Navy

On India defence panel agenda: $3-bn naval plans for 10 Boeing spy planes

File Photo: Indian Navy’s Boeing P8I aircraft lined up at its home base in Arakkonam in Tamil Nadu, a southern Indian state.

New Delhi: India’s highest defence procurement decision-making panel will take up for approval a navy proposal to buy 10 Boeing P8I surveillance aircraft for a whopping $3 billion, people with knowledge of the meeting agenda said today.

The Defence Acquisition Council, headed by Minister of Defence Rajnath Singh, will meet on Nov. 28 to take a decision on the purchase of the Boeing Co. aircraft, which is critical for the Indian interests in the Indian Ocean region.

The Indian Navy had proposed to augment its existing fleet of the P8I aircraft with 10 more to enable it to cover the entire expanse of the Indian Ocean. It will also help the navy to carry out missions that will provide the nation with an eye in the sky to support its maritime domain awareness efforts. If the DAC approval comes through this time, the deal is expected to be signed in 2020.

The aircraft will also come with anti-submarine weapons on board to act as a deterrent against any mischief that India’s adversaries may plan with their underwater assets. China sends it conventional and nuclear submarines to the Indian Ocean region more frequently now on the pretext of anti-piracy operations in the Gulf of Aden to protect its energy supplies sea lanes.

The navy proposal had got past the first stage of approvals in June this year when the Ministry of Defence‘s Services Capital Acquisition Plan Categorisation Higher Committee gave its green signal for the purchase of the Boeing P-8I Neptune long-range maritime multi-mission aircraft. Now, the DAC would consider accepting the proposal as a necessity for the navy.

The Indian Navy already owns eight of the P8I aircraft, bought in 2009 for $2.1 billion and delivered by 2015. The force has already contracted for another four of these aircraft in 2016 for $1.1 billion, which would be delivered from 2021.

The aircraft is armed with Harpoon Block II anti-ship missiles and Raytheon Integrated Defense Systems Mk 54 Mod 0 lightweight anti-submarine warfare torpedoes capable of being released from a height of about six km.

The only other proposal on the agenda of the DAC this time that Defence.Capital could confirm for you is the Indian Army proposal from the infantry directorate to buy thermal imaging sights for the standard issue assault rifles.

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