k63510According to today’s Times of India, on January 1,  India’s Defense Ministry’s Joint Secretary and Acquisitions Manager (Maritime Systems) signed a purchase agreement with Boeing’s Integrated Systems and in-country lead for eight P-8I Poseidon’s at a price of $2.1B(US),  more than double the previous major US sale to India ($962M for six C-130J in 2007).  It also eclipses the $1.5B purchase (re-negotiated price) of the former tu-142Admiral Gorshkov aircraft carrier from Russia, and the $1.1B purchase of the Phalcon AEW aircraft form Israeli Aircraft Industries.  The eight P-8I are slated to replace the eight Tu-142M Bear ASW currently operated by the Indian Navy.  First delivery is slated for late 2012/early 2013 with incremental deliveries thereafter from 2015-2016.  There is also an option to purchase four to eight additional aircraft.

There are several implications – major implications, worth highlighting with this purchase.  The first, of course, is the statement it makes about India’s intentions towards presence and reach into the Indian Ocean and environs.  That much is obvious – the others less so.  One of the sticking points, if you will, about US overseas sales of new weapons systems are the end use agreements that drive safeguards over disclosure of technical details of the system.  These are not unique to the Indian-US deal and in fact, are present with most all such overseas sales and include things like agreement to return key components to the US for repair, agreement not to tamper with or examine software coding, etc.  Some forms of NDA can be pretty intrusive and limiting – and this was something India sought to avoid.  More so, has been Indian insistence ion the past for indigenous production – not just assembly.  That is a key factor driving the current MRCA competition that has entries from the US, Russia and EU presently competing.  Now, it could be that with the limited number of aircraft involved and the concern over the immediacy of replacement of replacing the aging Bears that India was willing to forgo the indigenous production requirement.  There is also a possibility that by “giving” a little here, India seeks more leverage in the MRCA competition for it is clearly interested in acquiring the most advanced systems for those aircraft – chief of which is the most capable version of an AESA radar (as opposed to the “export only” versions).  This has been a sticking point where the Super Hornet, also built and entered in the competition by Boeing, is concerned.  The fact that the signing and ongoing NDA negotiations have been relatively low-key makes us suspect that something like this may be in play — we will continue to observe developments in this venue with much interest.

2 Comments

  1. SJS,

    I think this is interesting in more then what you just mentioned. I would almost hazard that with Pakistan slowly sliding into the grips of radical cleric control. I think that India is trying very hard to be the Indian Ocean’s Regional Power. That would be very beneficial for the US since it would offset any attempts by Iran to do the same. At the same token, India knows that to be a Regional Power it needs to know how to play with the Superpowers. So if it operates the same sort of gear as the US, knows enough of the play book to operate successfully with the US, and is willing to work with the US. Well then now they have a cheaply bought big stick to operate as they speak softly in the region. The same is true on the opposite end for the United States. Not saying that we have puppet in the region, but rather someone who has been around a while and can help to be our eyes and ears on the ground with less overt presence by the United States. I think this ties in neatly with the Indian’s being invited to Red Flag last year and the USAF being invited to play against their Su-30MKi’s a couple of years before that.

  2. Steeljawscribe

    Southern:

    Roger all. Clearly the Indians desire to open up their procurement sources such that they are not held over the barrel as they were (and to some extent still are) by the Soviets/Russians. Additionally there is the issue of Pakistan and growing PRC presence in the IO. Yet a chief factor in the drive here, to replace the rapidly aging Bear’s is a 7,516-km coastline, 1,197 islands and a 2.01 million sq km exclusive economic zone that the Indian Navy must account for and for which the current Indian Navy CoS indicated would be among his top priorities in 2006 when he assumed the office.
    Should also probably have noted Pakistan is getting re-vamped P-3’s, so there’s that one-upsmanship factor here too…
    And before we get too comfortable with the Indians, let’s understand that like the Israelies, their own interests will reign paramount and they will seek their own, at times maddengly so, way if for nothing else but to preserve their leadership role amongst the so-called nonaligned nations. As long as we keep that in mind and don’t carry unrealistic expectations to the table, the cooperation between the US and the world’s largest democratic populace could indeed be fruitful and a stabilizing factor in the region.
    – SJS

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