The US State Department has approved a possible sale of six P-8I maritime patrol aircraft to the government of India for an estimated cost of $2.42 billion.
The US Defense Security Cooperation Agency (DSCA) has delivered the required certification notifying congress of the possible sale but this does not necessarily mean a sale will be concluded. The total number of aircraft and the value of the contract, should one be concluded, is also subject to change.
India already operates eight aircraft of the type and is in the process of commissioning four more, which were ordered as an option in 2016. The six additional airframes would bring the total number of the aircraft in the Indian Navy fleet to 18, cementing the country’s position as the second-largest operator of the type after the US Navy.
The Poseidon is proving to be a popular anti-submarine warfare platform, and has already been ordered by the UK, Australia, New Zealand, Norway, and South Korea. Germany is currently also evaluating a possible buy.
The Indian Navy request for additional airframes included tactical radio systems (MIDS-JTRS 5), missile warning sensors and AN/ALE-47 decoys, among other equipment.
It should be noted that the six additional Poseidons should be fitted with specific encrypted equipment, which previously had to be replaced by commercial off-the-shelf systems as India had not signed the Communications and Information Security Memorandum of Agreement (CISMOA). The US signs these agreements with its partners to enable sales of high-end technology. India the US signed the COMCASA agreement, an Indian-specific version of the CISMOA, in 2018.