US offers eight P-3C Orion surveillance aircraft to India
BANGALORE, SEP 14 (PTI)
The US has offered to sell eight P-3C Orion naval reconnaissance aircraft to India and New Delhi is examining the proposal, Chief of the Naval Staff Admiral Arun Prakash said today.
The US has offered to modernise eight old P-3C Orion planes and supply to India, he told reporters here.
"We are examining that offer," the Naval Chief said.
Admiral Prakash said India needs some maritime reconnaissance aircraft as "we lost a few and some have retired." "So, we are looking out for a replacement. This (the US offer) is one of the candidates." Russia has also offered to sell naval reconnaissance aircraft to India, said the Naval chief who earlier inaugurated the 46th annual conference of the Indian Society of Aerospace Medicine here.
Pakistan has recently taken delivery of eight P-3C Orion patrol aircraft from the US. The planes, worth up to USD 970 million, were provided free of cost.
Orions, manufactured by US defence firm Lockheed Martin, are long-range maritime patrol aircraft with an endurance of 18 hours, reports said.
On the Scorpene submarines deal with France, the Naval chief said once India starts producing submarines, "our force level will be adequate to meet any threat." He said India will build six submarines at Mazgaon dock in Mumbai under license from the French.
"From the date the contract is signed which should be very shortly, the first submarine should be out in five or six years," Admiral Prakash said.
"After the first production of six submarines is over, we will design and produce our own submarines," he said.
"We are required to have certain force level of submarines which were slowly running down because they were getting old and being decommissioned," he added Admiral Prakash said China is helping Pakistan to build a commercial port but it's not a cause for concern for New Delhi "at this moment." Asked if he anticipated "much more than that" (Chinese going beyond helping Pakistan in port building), he said "We are watching. We will see what happens in the future. We are prepared for any future developments. At this moment, there is no cause for concern or alarm to us." The Naval Chief said he was unaware of any move by Beijing to set up a naval intelligence unit in Pakistan or a naval base in that country.
He said about Rs 300 crore has already been invested in designing and developing naval version of the Light Combat Aircraft. Once it receives certification, expected in 2011 or 2012, it will fly from "both of our aircraft carriers.