P-8Is Surveillance Aircraft
A U.S. Navy Boeing P-8A Poseidon maritime patrol aircraft takes part in the Malta International Airshow at SmartCity Malta outside Kalkara, Malta,Credit: Reuters

The Indian Navy's surveillance capabilities are expected to get boosted further as it has decided to acquire 10 additional Anti-Submarine P-8Is aircraft. The deal is likely to be signed during the visit of the U.S. Secretary of State, Mike Pompeo, to India. Notably, India is already using P-8Is, one of the best for surveillance in the world today. These aircraft were inducted into the Navy during the tenure of Manohar Parrikar as defence minister.

The Boeing P-8 Poseidon was manufactured for the US Navy by Boeing Defence. Indian Navy became the first international buyer for P-8Is in 2009 when it signed a contract with the US to acquire 8 of these aircraft. The first aircraft arrived in India in May 2013 and as of date, all eight aircraft have been inducted into the Indian Navy and are fully integrated into its operations.

Some of the operations carried out by the aircraft includes anti-submarine warfare (ASW), anti-surface warfare (ASUW), and shipping interdiction, along with an early warning self-protection (EWSP) ability. P-8Is are loaded with lethal Harpoon Block-II missiles, MK-54 lightweight torpedoes, rockets and depth charges, these sensor and radar-packed aircraft are the country's eyes over the Indian Ocean Region (IOR).

P-8Is Aircrafts
A P-8A Poseidon surveillance plane conducts flyovers above the Enterprise Carrier Strike Group on February 3, 2012 in this handout photo courtesy of the U.S. Navy. REUTERS/U.S. Navy/Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Daniel J. Meshel/Handout

The Services Capital Acquisition Categorization Higher Committee (SCAPCHC), headed by the Chief of Integrated Staff or CISC, a senior lieutenant-general and including the three vice chiefs of staff of the three services cleared the proposal of the deal which will cost around Rs 22,500 crore. The deal will be further examined by the Defence Acquisition Council (DAC) headed by defence minister Rajnath Singh and including the three chiefs and the defence secretary. Once cleared it will be sent to Cabinet Committee on Security (CCS) headed by Prime Minister Narendra Modi and including the finance, defence, home and external affairs ministers for the final clearance.

India will buy these aircraft through the Foreign Military Sales (FMS) route which means a government-to-government deal. The process avoids the lengthy process of bidding. In the recent times, many other orders have been placed by India through FMS route which includes the 145 M-777 light howitzers for the Indian Army and also, the C-130 and C-17 aircraft and the Apache and Chinook helicopters.