The second specially modified Boeing 777 aircraft, part of the Air India One fleet for VVIPs including the President, Vice President and the Prime Minister, landed on Sunday. The aircraft can fly between the US and India without having to stop for refuelling.
The first modified aircraft had arrived on October 1 after being delayed by more than a month; officials had cited certain “operational issues” with the aircraft. The two aircraft – Boeing 777-300 ERs – had joined Air India’s fleet in 2018 and had been sent to a Boeing facility in Dallas for customisation.
The Centre had sent a team of senior officials from the Indian Air Force and Air India for escorting the aircraft back to India and assessing the technical requirements.
The government has planned to procure two such specially modified Boeing-777 aircraft, capable of countering missile threats with their own missile defence system, called the Large Aircraft Infrared Countermeasures (LAIRCM) and Self-Protection Suites (SPS).
The US Defense Security Cooperation Agency, which had notified the US Congress about its decision to sell the defence system earlier this year, had put its cost at about $ 190 million.