Ahead of the second round of Indo-US 2+2 Ministerial Dialogue next month, the Defence Acquisition Council (DAC) headed by the defence minister Rajnath Singh has approved the procurement of Long-Range Anti-submarine Warfare P8 I aircraft. The Indian Navy plans to buy 10 more of P-8I aircraft for around $ 3 billion from the US-based Boeing Company through the Foreign Military Sales (FMS) route for strengthening surveillance in the Indian Ocean in view of China's growing presence and will also boost the navy's Anti-submarine warfare, and Anti-surface Vessel strike. The Chinese Peoples Liberation Army Navy (PLAN), in the next decade, plans to have more than 70 submarines in service.
The first order for eight aircraft for $ 2.1 billion was made in 2009, followed by an order for four more which was placed in 2016. The deal for an additional 10 aircraft will come with a clause of a minimum 30% offsets to domestic companies and will be in addition to the 12 P8I aircraft.
These aircraft are used for maritime patrol and have the speciality to track and hunt down enemy submarines with lightweight torpedoes. This aircraft is used by the US and Australian Navies and in the recent exercises the Indian Navy's P-8I has extensively been sent for search missions in the Bay of Bengal and the Arabian Sea, also have gone for search and spot submarines and ships. Last year it was also involved in a search operation when an AN-32 transport aircraft of the Indian Air Force (IAF) had crashed off the Chennai Coast.
India will get will be the updated version of the maritime reconnaissance aircraft, the work on which has already started at the Boeing facility in the US, based on the list of upgrades and new features Indian Navy has sought due to changing scenarios in the region.
These aircraft come with Harpoon anti-shipping missiles, are equipped with aerial refuelling system which was not a contracted requirement from the Indian side.