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The Indian Navy has expressed a strong interest in procuring six additional Boeing P-8I Long Range Maritime Reconnaissance (LRMR) aircraft from the United States through a multi-billion-dollar Government-to-Government deal. This decision might be followed post renegotiations due to the expiration of the price offer last year, which later has to be cleared by India’s Defence Acquisition Council (DAC) led by the Defence Minister.

Initially, the Indian Ministry of Defence (MoD) had put the procurement of additional P-8I aircraft on hold to promote local alternative solutions. However, the Navy, seeking to enhance its maritime reconnaissance and anti-submarine warfare capabilities, is unwilling to wait for a local solution that could potentially take a decade or more to materialize. This urgency is driven by growing Chinese Naval assertions in the Indian Ocean Region (IOR).

While the MoD has not yet clarified its stance on the acquisition of six more P-8I aircraft, the likelihood of approval is high, given the absence of a viable local alternative. However, insiders familiar with the matter told idrw that the MoD may impose certain conditions to ensure that the next batch of aircraft aligns with the “Make in India” initiative in defence. This could involve requiring Boeing to procure more components from Indian companies, even though Indian defence entities are already involved in the supply chain process. Notable Indian companies such as Bharat Electronics Limited (BEL), Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL), Electronics Corporation of India Limited (ECIL), and Tata Advanced Strategic Systems (TASL) currently supply sub-systems to Boeing for the P-8I.

The acquisition of additional P-8I LRMR aircraft will significantly bolster the Indian Navy’s capabilities in maritime surveillance and anti-submarine warfare. These advanced aircraft, equipped with state-of-the-art technologies, will play a vital role in ensuring the security of India’s vast maritime interests, particularly in the face of increasing Chinese activities in the region.

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