The Biden administration announced it will sell six P-8 maritime patrol aircraft and related gear to India worth $2.42 billion. The jet sale was announced by the State Department and the Pentagon’s Defense Security Cooperation agency notified Congress of the sale Friday.
The arms transfer is part of American efforts to coax the traditionally non-aligned Indian government into greater regional efforts to counter China’s growing military expansionism. India has joined the “Quad” of regional powers that includes the United States, Japan and Australia that is emerging as a quasi-anti-Beijing alliance.
The P-8 is a militarized Boeing 737 considered an advanced anti-submarine and anti-surface ship weapon. Its armament includes torpedoes and Harpoon anti-ship missiles. The jets also can operate as maritime surveillance aircraft and provide targeting and tracking information.
The sale is the third purchase of P-8s by Delhi. The Indians paid $2.1 billion in 2009 for eight P-8s and purchased four additional jets in 2016.
In 2013, India purchased AGM-84L Harpoon missiles and Mk 54 torpedoes for its P-8s.
The patrol aircraft sale also included tactical radio systems, missile warning sensors, GPS inertial navigation and engine spares, and aircraft counter-missile systems.
“This proposed sale will support the foreign policy and national security of the United States by helping to strengthen the U.S.-Indian strategic relationship and to improve the security of a major defensive partner, which continues to be an important force for political stability, peace, and economic progress in the Indo-Pacific and South Asia region,” the State Department said in announcing the sale.
India has grown increasingly wary of Chinese military expansionism in the Indian Ocean, including Chinese submarine patrols and naval port visits to Pakistan.
Tensions between India and China soared in June 2020 when Indian and Chinese troops battled each other along the disputed border in the Galwan Valley. A total of 20 Indian soldiers were killed. China reported 43 casualties.