India to buy 6 more US naval aircraft for $1.8bn

India has kicked off the acquisition process for six more long-range Poseidon-8I aircraft from the US, while a plan is also underway to fast-track procurement of six Predator-B armed drones amid the ongoing confrontation with China.

Top defence sources said the ‘letter of request’ for six more P-8Is for around $1.8 billion has been issued to the US for the government-to-government deal under Pentagon’s foreign military sales programme. “The US will soon send the ‘letter of acceptance’ after congressional approval. The contract should be inked by early next year,” a source said.

Concurrently, the armed forces are examining “emergency procurement” of six Predator-B or weaponised Sea Guardian drones from the US.

India is extensively using the naval P-8I patrol planes, packed with radars and electro-optic sensors and with Harpoon Block-II missiles and MK-54 lightweight torpedoes, for surveillance missions over Indian Ocean and eastern Ladakh.

The Navy had inducted eight P-8I aircraft under a $2.1 billion deal. 

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