Mar. 18 – India has just announced the purchase of eight Boeing P-81 maritime patrol aircrafts, worth US$2.1 billion. The deal, just approved by the Obama administration, is the largest U.S. arms sale to India to date, and comes as the United States approved the sale “having factored in political, military, economic, human rights and arms-control considerations.” The Indian Navy is the first recipient of the aircraft; known for their long distance surveillance capabilities. The deal comes at a time when China’s development of its “string of pearls” strategy is in the ascendancy.
The first aircraft is due for delivery in 2013, with the full order to be completed two years later. The aircraft, which is designed around the Boeing 737 airframe, can perform anti-submarine warfare, search and rescue, maritime intervention, long range surveillance, target acquisition and reconnaissance. The US$2.2 billion contract comes at a time when India and the United States are increasingly concerned about losing influence within the Indian Ocean. The deal also includes maintenance, training, supporting equipment and logistical support.