India on Wednesday signed an over $1 billion deal with American defence and aerospace major Boeing for procuring four additional 'Poseidon-8I' long-range maritime surveillance and anti-submarine warfare aircraft.
The contract is a follow-on order to eight P-81 planes already bought by India in a direct deal with the firm worth $2.1 billion, defence sources said. The contract was inked during the ongoing visit of US Under Secretary for Defence on Acquisition Frank Kendall, and is seen as a sign of growing Indo-US defence ties, they said.
India had last year signed a $3 billion contract with the US through Foreign Military Sales route for 22 Apache and 15 Chinook helicopters. With Wednesday's deal, the total value of defence deals signed with the US in the last one decade comes to around $15 billion.
India is also working on a deal to get 145 pieces of M777 light-weight howitzers from the US, the sources said. The acquisition of additional 'P-8I' will be a shot in the arm of the Indian Navy as the country has been building up its naval surveillance capabilities.
Armed with deadly Harpoon missiles, lightweight torpedoes, rockets among others, the Navy is extensively using the P-8I to keep a strict vigil over the Indian Ocean, which has seen numerous Chinese submarine forays, including docking of a nuclear sub in Sri Lanka.
The Navy will also be able to drop and monitor sonobuoys, being used in the search for the missing AN32 aircraft of the Indian Air Force, they said. Incidentally, India was 'P-8''s first international customer and was also Boeing's first military sale to India.
The 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.
The planes will provide strategic blue water and littoral undersea warfare capabilities as well as armed intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance to the navy, the defence sources added. Based on Boeing's Next-Generation 737 commercial airplane, P-8I is the Indian Navy variant of the P-8A Poseidon that the American defence has developed for the US Navy.
US aircraft giant crashes to $234 mn loss
Boeing reported a second-quarter loss on Wednesday due to elevated costs for an Air Force contract and for commercial air production as it confirmed its full-year plane deliveries targets. The US aerospace giant lost $234 million for the quarter ending June 30 following $2.1 billion in unexpected charges announced last week. The smaller-than-expected loss compared to $1.1 billion in earnings in the year-ago quarter.