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The Indian Navy is seeking to acquire six additional P-8I Poseidon maritime patrol aircraft (MPA) to bolster its surveillance capabilities in the Indian Ocean Region (IOR). However, the Ministry of Defence (MoD) is reportedly hesitant to approve the purchase, citing budgetary constraints and alternative options.

This development comes as the Navy recently retired its ageing fleet of Russian IL-38 MPAs and is looking to replace its Tu-142M maritime reconnaissance and anti-submarine warfare aircraft. The Navy is concerned about the gap created by these retirements and believes that the P-8I is crucial for maintaining a robust maritime surveillance network.

The P-8I is a long-range, multi-mission aircraft manufactured by Boeing Defense, Space & Security. It is equipped with advanced sensors and weapons systems, making it ideal for surveillance, intelligence gathering, anti-submarine warfare, and anti-surface warfare missions.

However, the MoD is concerned about the price tag of the P-8Is. Each aircraft costs approximately $290 million, and acquiring six additional units would be a significant financial burden.

The MoD is also considering alternative options, such as the C-295 MPA proposed by DRDO. This aircraft is seen as a more affordable option, but its capabilities are not as extensive as the P-8I.

Ultimately, the decision of whether or not to approve the acquisition of additional P-8Is will depend on a careful balancing act between the Navy’s operational requirements, budgetary constraints, and the availability of alternative options.

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