India on Wednesday inked a deal with US defence and aerospace giant Boeing for four P-8I submarine hunter planes, sources said.
The contract is a follow-on order to eight P-81 planes already bought by India in a deal worth $2.1 billion. The P-8I fleet is being augmented to further improve the Indian Navy’s anti-submarine and anti-surface warfare capabilities. The follow-on order for the P-8I, a military derivative of Boeing’s 737-800 commercial aircraft, is worth over $ 1 billion.
The planes will provide strategic blue water and littoral undersea warfare capabilities as well as armed intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance to the navy. The planes, a replacement for the Soviet-era Tu-142 fleet, are expected to be in naval service beyond 2050.
The P-8I is the Indian Navy variant of the P-8A Poseidon that Boeing has developed for the US Navy.
The underbelly of the dual-cockpit plane, capable of high rates of descent and short-field landings, has a bomb bay for torpedoes and launching tubes for sonar listening buoys. It can carry missiles, bombs and mines.
The navy’s P-8I fleet is based at the Naval Air Station Rajali in Tamil Nadu. The long-range maritime reconnaissance aircraft has an operational speed of 450 miles per hour and a range of 4,500 nautical miles.