New Delhi | Jagran News Desk: In a big move to boost the strength of Indian Armed Forces, India has formally kickstarted the acquisition process for six more long-range Poseidon-8I aircraft from the United States for around $1.8 billion, reports Times Of India.

According to the report, top defence forces on Friday said the “letter of request” for six more P-8Is has now been issued to the US for the government-to-government deal under Pentagon’s foreign military sales (FMS) programme.

While India has eight naval P-8I patrol planes that are already in use for surveillance missions over the Indian Ocean as well as eastern Ladakh, a plan is also under-way to fast-track the procurement of six Predator-B armed drones amid the heightened military border tensions with China.

The P-8I patrol planes which are built by the US-based aerospace giant Boeing, are packed with radars and electro-optic sensors as well as armed with Harpoon Block-II missiles and MK-54 lightweight torpedoes to regulate surveillance along the Line of Actual Control.

Under a $2.1 billion deal signed in January 2009, The Indian navy inducted eight Boeing-manufactured P-8I aircraft and in another $1.1 billion contract signed in July 2016, the delivery of the same is set to begin by December later this year. P-8I is the Indian Navy variant of the P-8A Poseidon of the US and It was formerly called the Multi-mission Maritime Aircraft and is based on Boeing's Next-Generation 737 commercial airplane.

Currently, in the wake of the ongoing confrontation with China along the 3,488-km-long Line of Actual Control, especially in eastern Ladakh, the Indian Army is focussed to examine “an emergency procurement” of six Predator-B or weaponized Sea Guardian drones from the United States.

Earlier this week, the Indian Navy deployed Poseidon 8I anti-submarine warfare aircraft in the eastern Ladakh to carry out surveillance along the Line of Actual Control (LAC). According to several media reports, the Indian Navy’s MiG-29K jets are likely to be stationed in key IAF bases in the northern sector amid the border row with China.

Posted By: Simran Babbar