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P-8I Patrol Aircraft

  • 25 Feb 2022
  • 5 min read

For Prelims: P-8I Patrol Aircraft, COMCASA Agreement.

For Mains: India-US Defense Ties.

Why in News?

Aircraft manufacturer Boeing has delivered the 12th P-8I long-range maritime patrol aircraft to the Indian Navy. This completes the follow-on clause for four additional P-8I aircraft contracted in 2016.

What are the Key Details of P-8I Aircraft?

  • It is a long-range Maritime Reconnaissance and Anti-Submarine Warfare Aircraft.
  • It is an Indian variant of the P-8A Poseidon aircraft that Boeing company developed as a replacement for the US Navy’s ageing P-3 fleet.
  • With a maximum speed of 907 kmph and an operating range of over 1,200 nautical miles, the P-8Is detect threats and neutralize them if required, far before they come anywhere near Indian shores.
  • The Indian Navy became the first international customer for the P-8 aircraft in 2009.
    • The Navy had procured eight P-8Is under a USD 2.2 billion deal in 2009. The aircraft are part of the 312A Naval Air Squadron based at Arakkonam in Tamil Nadu.
    • In 2016, the Navy exercised the optional clause for four more P-8Is in a deal worth over USD 1 billion.
    • Further in May 2021, the US State Department approved the possible sale of six additional P-8I aircraft and related equipment, to India.
    • The six P-8Is will come installed with encrypted communication systems since India has now signed the foundational agreement Communications Compatibility and Security Agreement (COMCASA) with the US.

How are Indo-US Defense Ties?

  • This proposed sale (approved in 2021) will help to strengthen the US-Indian strategic relationship.
    • For the US, India continues to be an important force for political stability, peace, and economic progress in the Indo-Pacific and South Asia region.
  • Defense purchases from the United States have been increasingly an integral part of growing ties between the two countries.
    • From near zero in 2008, India-US defence trade touched USD 20 billion in 2020, helped along by major policy upgrades.
  • The US designated India a Major Defence Partner (in 2016) and then granted it the same access to defence technology as NATO allies and Australia, Japan and South Korea under Strategic Trade Authorization-1 (STA) in 2018.

What is the COMCASA Agreement?

  • COMCASA (Communications Compatibility and Security Agreement) is meant to provide a legal framework for the transfer of communication security equipment from the US to India that would facilitate “interoperability” between their forces — and potentially with other militaries that use US-origin systems for secured data links.
  • It is one of the four foundational agreements that the US signs with allies and close partners to facilitate interoperability between militaries and sale of high end technology.
  • It is an India-specific version of the Communication and Information on Security Memorandum of Agreement (CISMOA).
  • Four Foundational Agreements between the US and its Partners:
    • General Security Of Military Information Agreement (GSOMIA) - Signed by India in 2002.
      • Allows militaries to share the intelligence gathered by them.
    • Logistics Exchange Memorandum of Agreement (LEMOA) - Signed by India in 2016.
      • Allows both countries to have access to each other’s designated military facilities for refueling and replenishment.
    • Communications and Information Security Memorandum of Agreement (CISMOA) - Signed by India in 2018.
      • Communications Compatibility and Security Agreement (COMCASA) is the India specific version of CISMOA.
    • Basic Exchange and Cooperation Agreement (BECA) - India has signed BECA in 2020.
      • Allows India and US militaries to share geospatial and satellite data with each other.

Source: TH

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