India Set To Acquire 4 More Sub-Hunting US Aircraft

India signed a USD 1 billion deal with Boeing on Wednesday for acquiring four ‘Poseidon-8I’ long-range surveillance and anti-submarine warfare aircraft.
According to sources close to the Indian government, the Cabinet Committee on Security (CCS), chaired by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, cleared the acquisition in June in order to boost the South Asian country’s naval strength. With the acquisition of four more Poseidon-8I aircraft, India has taken the total value of arms contracts with the US to more than USD 15 billion in the last decade.
A senior Indian official said that the four new P-8I aircraft, packed with radars and weapons, would join the first eight such aircraft (already inducted by the Indian Navy) by the end of 2019. Currently, the Indian Navy uses eight P-8Is, which are armed with deadly Harpoon Block-II missiles, MK-54 lightweight torpedoes, rockets and depth charges, mainly to monitor the Chinese activities in the Indian Ocean Region (IOR).
The official admitted that increased activities of Chinese submarines in the IOR prompted India to acquire four more P-8I aircraft with an operating range of 1,200 nautical miles. He claimed that the acquisition of P-8Is would allow the Indian Navy to undertake extensive maritime surveillance and intelligence-gathering missions.
The official, who wished to remain anonymous, stressed that the existing eight P-8Is are based at the ‘INS Rajali’ naval airbase at Arakkonam in southern Indian Province of Tamil Nadu.
In recent times, India and the US have strengthened anti-submarine warfare co-operation in an attempt to keep a track of the growing number of Chinese submarines making forays into the Indian Ocean. In January, India sent two P-8I aircraft to the Andaman and Nicobar Islands, located in the Indian Ocean 1,200km away from the Indian mainland, for a 14-day rotation. India also commissioned its first indigenously developed Ballistic Missile Nuclear Submarine (SSBN), the INS Arihant, after China deployed its first-ever submarine nuclear deterrence patrol in December 2015.
Experts believe that the Sino-Indian underwater arms race has the potential to contribute to instability in the entire Asia-Pacific region.

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