US clears sale of six more P-8I aircraft for India
The United States has cleared the potential sale of six additional P-8I maritime patrol aircraft for India, worth $2.42 billion. The Defense Security Cooperation Agency (DSCA), which handles these sales, notified the US congress of the clearance of the deal by the state department on Friday.
India already has a fleet of P-8I patrol aircraft, with eight ordered in 2009 and four more in 2016. With six more now, “will allow the Indian Navy to expand its maritime surveillance aircraft (MSA) capability for the next 30 years”, the DSCA said, adding, “India will have no difficulty absorbing these aircraft into its armed forces.”
Manufactured by Boeing, P-8I is an Indian variant of P-8s that the company says are designed for long-range anti-submarine warfare, anti-surface warfare, and intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance missions. It does multiple missions and comes equipped with “state-of-the-art sensors, proven weapons systems, and a globally recognised platform”.
India’s order for the new P-8Is comes with eight Multifunctional Information Distribution System-Joint Tactical Radio Systems 5 (MIDS-JTRS 5); 42 AN/AAR-54 Missile Warning Sensors; 14 LN-251 with Embedded Global Positioning Systems/Inertial Navigations Systems and other elements.
“This proposed sale will support the foreign policy and national security of the United States by helping to strengthen the US-Indian strategic relationship and to improve the security of a major defensive partner, which continues to be an important force for political stability, peace, and economic progress in the Indo-Pacific and South Asia region,” the DSCA said.
Defense purchases from the United States have been increasingly an integral part of growing ties between the two countries. From near zero in 2008, India-US defence trade touched $20 billion in 2020, helped along by major policy upgrades. The US designating India a Major Defence Partner (in 2016) and then granting it same access to defence technology as NATO allies and Australia, Japan and South Korea under Strategic Trade Authorization-1 (STA) in 2018.
And, India has signed all foundational agreements - also called enabling agreements - overcoming years of hesitation: Basic Exchange and Cooperation Agreement (BECA) in 2020, Communications Compatibility and Security Agreement (COMCASA) in 2018, Logistics Exchange Memorandum of Agreement in 2016, and General Security of Military Information Agreement (GSOMIA) in 2002.