India to buy 6 more Boeing P-8 Poseidon patrol aircraft

India has formally kicked off the acquisition process for six more long-range Boeing Poseidon-8I maritime patrol aircraft from the US, while a plan is also underway for fast-track procurement of six Predator-B armed drones in naval version (Sea Guardian) amidst the ongoing military confrontation with China, Rajat Pandit reports on the Times of India.

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India to buy 6 more Boeing P 8 Poseidon patrol aircraft Boeing P-8I Poseidon (Picture source: Indian MoD)

The Indian Navy had inducted eight Boeing P-8I aircraft under a $2.1 billion deal inked in January 2009, while the next four will be delivered from December 2020 onwards under another $1.1 billion contract signed in July 2016. Top Indian defence sources on Friday, July 24, said the “letter of request” for six more P-8Is for around $1.8 billion has now been issued to the US for the government-to-government deal under Pentagon’s foreign military sales (FMS) programme. The contract should be signed by early 2021. Indian P-8I naval patrol aircraft are armed with Harpoon Block-II missiles and MK-54 lightweight torpedoes, for surveillance missions over the Indian Ocean as well as eastern Ladakh.

The Boeing P-8 Poseidon (formerly Multimission Maritime Aircraft) has been developed and is produced by Boeing Defense, Space & Security, modified from the 737-800ERX. It was developed for the United States Navy (USN). The P-8 is being operated in the anti-submarine warfare (ASW), anti-surface warfare (ASUW), and shipping interdiction roles. It is armed with torpedoes, Harpoon anti-ship missiles and other weapons, and is able to drop and monitor sonobuoys, as well as operate in conjunction with other assets, including the Northrop Grumman MQ-4C Triton maritime surveillance unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV).

The P-8 is operated by the United States Navy, the Indian Navy, Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) and the UK's Royal Air Force (RAF). It has also been ordered by the Royal Norwegian Air Force (RNoAF), the Royal New Zealand Air Force (RNZAF), and the Republic of Korea Navy (ROKN).