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India to Buy More P-8I Patrol Aircraft from Boeing

by: Matthew Potter
April 5, 2011

Category: Boeing, Business Line, Companies, Contract Additions, Countries, D'Assault, development program, Events, India, Lockheed Martin, MiG, Military Aviation, northrop grumman, production program, SAAB, Services | RSS 2.0

The United States Navy has been using the P-3C Orion as its primary patrol and anti-submarine aircraft for about forty years. This propeller driven aircraft was manufactured by Lockheed Martin (LMT). It is in the process of being replaced by the P-8A Poseidon aircraft based on Boeing’s (BA) 737 jet airliner.

There are currently P-8A aircraft being tested by the Navy and the first initial production aircraft is nearing completion. The P-3C has seen some use by U.S. allies and it is expected that the P-8A will also follow suit.

Right now though the only confirmed international customer is the Indian government. In the largest defense contract between that country and the United States they agreed two years ago to purchase eight of the aircraft to replace their fleet of Soviet designed and built Ilyushin aircraft.

India had traditionally purchased equipment from either the United Kingdom or Russia. Their rules on offsets and use of domestic corporations have made their market unattractive for U.S. and other Western companies but in the last few years as part of an attempt to upgrade their overall capability they have relaxed those rules. The deal for the “P-8I” is hopefully the foot in the door for other large contracts such as the new fighter currently undergoing source selection and potential helicopter contracts.

Now it has come out that India intends to increase the order to 12 aircraft. This will increase the total value of the contract to close to $3 billion. India is also looking at buying C-17 transports from Boeing. An order the company needs to keep their Long Beach, CA production line open for that aircraft.

Boeing is also competing its F/A-18 aircraft for the new fighter against a diverse group of competitors. Sweden’s SAAB (SAAB), Lockheed, Eurofighter, Russia’s MiG and France’s Dassault Aviation have also submitted proposals. The award has been dragged out and now may not occur until 2012.

India is seen as a market along with other Asian and Middle Eastern nations that may be turned to to balance declines in domestic defense spending expected in the U.S. and Europe. The P-8I is hoped to be the first of many such contracts.

Photo from Henrique Vicete’s flickr photostream.

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