India Orders Eight Boeing P-8Is

Jan 5, 2009
Neelam Mathews mathews.neelam@gmail.com

The Indian Navy ordered eight Boeing P-8I multimission aircraft on Jan. 2 to replace its eight aging TU-142s, making for the first direct military sales by Boeing to India.

"Clearly, we are pleased that the government of India has selected the P-8Is. India has become the first international customer for P-8s. It is significant for us to partner with this market," said Vivek Lall, vice president and country head, Boeing Integrated Defense Systems.

There are 30 percent offsets that have been committed by Boeing on the deal. Boeing declined to comment on delivery schedules.

"The commonality inherent in our solution will greatly enhance the interoperability and supportability objectives publicly supported by both the U.S. and Indian navies," Lall told Aviation Week.

The U.S.-commissioned P-8A is a long-range, anti-submarine warfare, anti-surface warfare, intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance aircraft with a mission system for maximum interoperability in battle space.

The P-8's open architecture permits easy upgrades for the integration of indigenous sensors. Boeing was believed to be looking for that to be an advantage in the down-select. Indications that indigenously developed sensors might be applied leave open the possibility that India will turn to some of its foreign collaborators, such as Israel.

Boeing's proposal assumed the need for significant participation by Indian industry, including in the test and certification phase, a senior defense official had told Aviation Week.

"The contract will deepen our partnership with the Indian industry," Lall said. "The P-8 is a true MMA patrol aircraft with flexibility that will serve the needs of various missions for anti-submarine warfare," he asserted.

The Indian navy's maritime surveillance resources are under pressure as a fast-growing economy forces its energy interests to extend up the shores of Africa. Further, changing dynamics of security in the region are posing fresh challenges and have moved the need for military responsiveness beyond land. In that context, the P-8I is being looked as an imminent buy. One analyst commented that what will be interesting is the networked synergy that India gets with the P-8 and either the F/A-18E/F or F-16 with an active electronically scanned array radar.

Meanwhile, India intends to use the 20 Harpoon Block II missiles it plans to purchase from the United States to modernize its air force's anti-surface warfare mission capabilities, as well as improve its navy's operational flexibility.

The prime contractor for the Harpoon sale also will be Boeing. There are no known offset agreements proposed in connection with the potential sale. The total value, if all options are exercised, could be as high as $170 million.

The missiles will help the Indian navy develop and enhance standardization and operational ability with the United States. India will have no difficulty absorbing the missiles into its armed forces, according to a U.S. Defense Security Cooperation Agency statement.

It has been speculated that Boeing's P-8I long-range, maritime patrol aircraft could carry the Harpoons without the need for complicated integration.

P-8A photo: Boeing

Aviation Week

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