New Delhi: On Wednesday, India signed a contract to buy four maritime spy planes from Boeing Co for about $1 billion. The Defence and industry sources said that the aim to bolster the navy as it tries to check China’s presence in the Indian Ocean.
According to sources of defence ministry, On Wednesday exercised an option for four more. India has already deployed eight long-range P-8I aircraft to track submarine movements in the Indian Ocean.
A second defence official confirmed the value of the contract at about $1 billion. The Ministry said that the aircraft were expected to enter service over the next three years.
A spokewoman for Boeing defence, space and security in India, Amrita Dhindsa said that the P81 was an aircraft used for not only for long-range patrol but was also equipped with Harpoon missiles for anti-submarine warfare.
The deal signed during a visit by the US Under Secretary of Defense for Acquisition Frank Kendall. This deal marks a further tightening of India’s ties with the United States, which has emerged as a top arms supplier in recent years for India’s largely Soviet-equipped military.
A US embassy spokesman was not immediately available for comment.
According to sources of industry said that last year Boeing completed the delivery of the last of the aircraft under the previous order worth $2.1 billion.
The Indian navy has deployed some of its P8-I aircraft to the remote Andaman and Nicobar islands near the Malacca Straits. Two other routes into the Indian Ocean for military and commercial shipping.