India is now close to inking the $2.42 billion deal with the US for six more advanced P-8I submarine-hunting aircraft, which will take the total value of lucrative Indian defence contracts bagged by Washington in the last 15 years to around $25 billion.
The State Department and Pentagon on Friday notified the US Congress about the impending deal for the six P-8I aircraft and related equipment to India. “This proposed sale will support the foreign policy and national security of the US by helping to strengthen the US-Indian strategic relationship and to improve the security of a major defence partner, which continues to be an important force for political stability, peace and economic progress in the Indo-Pacific and South Asia regions,” said the notification.
Indian Navy has already inducted nine of the 12 P-8I aircraft, which are packed with radars and armed with Harpoon Block-II missiles, MK-54 lightweight torpedoes, rockets and depth charges, contracted for $3.2 billion earlier. The rest three are slated for delivery by this year-end.
The Boeing-manufactured P-8Is are primarily meant for hunting and destroying enemy submarines in the Indian Ocean Region. But India has also been extensively using the P-8Is, with their advanced electro-optic sensors, to keep tabs on the movements and build-ups of the People’s Liberation Army along the land borders ever since the military confrontation with China erupted in eastern Ladakh in May last year.
Unlike the first 12 P-8Is, the six new aircraft to be acquired now will have more advanced systems as a result of India signing the COMCASA (Communications, Compatibility and Security Arrangement) pact with the US in September 2018, as was reported by TOI earlier.