The US State Department has approved a possible Foreign Military Sale (FMS) of six Boeing P-8I Neptune maritime patrol aircraft (MPA) and related equipment to India for an estimated cost of US$2.42bn.
The approval was announced on April 30 by the US Defense Security Cooperation Agency (DSCA), which delivered the required certification notifying the US Congress of this possible sale on the same day. Congress has 30 days to raise any objections to the deal, otherwise it is deemed by law to have given its approval.
The Indian government has requested to purchase six more P-8I aircraft, along with eight Multifunctional Information Distribution System-Joint Tactical Radio Systems 5 (MIDS-JTRS 5) – six of which will be installed, with two spares. The possible deal also includes 42 AN/AAR-54 Missile Warning Sensors (36 installed, six spares) and 14 LN-251s with embedded global positioning systems/inertial navigation systems (EGIs) (12 installed, two spares).
Also included in India’s FMS request are CFM International CFM56-7 high-bypass turbofan commercial engines; Tactical Open Mission Software (ITOMS) variant for P-8I; MX-20HD electro-optical/infrared (EO/IR) sensors; AN/AAQ-2(V)I acoustic systems; ARES-1000 commercial variant electronic support measures; AN/APR-39D radar warning receivers and AN/ALE-47 countermeasure dispensing systems.
The proposed deal will also provide for relevant support equipment and spares; publications; repair and return; transportation; aircraft ferry; training; US government and contractor engineering, software, technical and logistics support services; plus, other related elements of logistical and programmatic support.
Known in Indian Navy service as the P-8I Neptune, the nation initially procured eight examples through a direct commercial sale with Boeing in January 2009. India contracted the firm to produce and deliver four additional aircraft in July 2016. The first P-8Is were delivered to the Indian Navy in 2013, providing the service with interoperability and critical capabilities for coalition maritime operations.
In June 2019, India approved the purchase of ten more aircraft, but budget restraints later reduced this to six – for which, a Letter of Request was issued to the US government in July 2020. This proposed sale of six additional P-8Is will allow the Indian Navy to expand its maritime surveillance aircraft capability for the next 30 years, according to the DSCA.