Context:The Navy plans to start receiving four more P-8I aircrafts from Boeing from May,2019 and the process will be completed by January 2022.

More about the news:

  • Earlier deal: Navy had procured eight P-8Is in a $2.2 billion deal in 2009. These aircrafts are part of the 312A Naval Air Squadron based at Arakkonam in Tamil Nadu. 
  • Optional Clause:Navy had also exercised the optional clause for four more P-8Is in a deal worth over $1billion.These aircraft will also be in the same configuration as the earlier eight aircraft. 
  • There are plans to install encrypted communication systems on the earlier ones.
  • 2019:The Defence Acquisition Council had approved the procurement of six additional P-8I aircraft. 
  • These aircraft, for which the deal is being currently processed, would be installed with the encrypted communication systems as and when they are delivered.

About the encrypted communication system to be installed 

  • Impact of conclusion of COMCASA:These encrypted communication systems are available to India following the conclusion of the foundational agreement Communications Compatibility and Security Agreement (COMCASA) with the US.
  • Common account for COMCASA:India has created a common account of $5 mn, from which deductions would be done for services or information sought from the U.S. under COMCASA.
  • CENTRIXS kits:
    • In 2019, the Indian and U.S. navies signed a loan agreement and installed two Pacific fleet provided CENTRIXS (Combined Enterprise Regional Information Exchange System) kits at the Indian Navy headquarters and discussions are on for more systems to be installed in a variety of places. 
    • These kits enable encrypted communications between the navies, enabling Maritime Domain Awareness (MDA), a key focus area between the two countries.

About P-8I aircraft

  • It is a long range maritime surveillance aircraft based on Boeing 737 commercial airliner and India was its first international customer.
  • Boeing’s P-8s Indian variant is referred to as P-8I.
  • It is designed for long-range anti-submarine warfare (ASW), anti-surface warfare (ASuW), and intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance (ISR) missions.
  • The aircraft has surpassed 25,000 flight-hours and gives India's maritime warriors a significant edge in the strategically important Indian Ocean region. 
  • Of a total of 12 ordered aircrafts, India has received eight currently, making the Indian Navy's P-8 fleet the second largest in the world.


Foundational agreements between India and US

The foundational  agreements are those which the U.S. signs with countries with which it has close military ties. The four agreements are:

  1. General Security Of Military Information Agreement (GSOMIA)
  2. Logistics Support Agreement (LSA)
  3. Communications Interoperability and Security Memorandum of Agreement (CISMOA) and 
  4. Basic Exchange and Cooperation Agreement for Geo-spatial Cooperation (BECA

Benefits of these agreements:

  • Promote interoperability: They are meant to build basic ground work and promote interoperability between militaries by creating common standards and systems.
  • Technology transfer: They also guide sale and transfer of high-end technologies.

General Security of Military Information Agreement (GSOMIA)

  • It was signed in 2002 between India and USA.
  • GSOMIA paved the way for greater technology cooperation in the military sector.
  • It allows the sharing of classified information from the U.S. government and American companies with the Government of India and Defense Public Sector Undertakings (DPSU) but not with Indian private companies.

Logistics Exchange Memorandum of Agreement (LEMOA)

  • This is a logistics support agreement signed in 2016.
  • It gives both the nations access to each other’s military facilities. But it does not make it automatic or obligatory.
  • It is a tweaked India-specific version of the Logistics Support Agreement (LSA) which the U.S. has with several countries it has close military to military cooperation. 
  • The agreement will primarily cover four areas - port calls, joint exercises, training and Humanitarian Assistance and Disaster Relief
  • Any other requirement has to be agreed upon by both sides on a case-by-case basis.

Communications Compatibility and Security Agreement (COMCASA)

  • It is the most recent agreement signed in 2018.
  • COMCASA is an India-specific version of the Communication and Information on Security Memorandum of Agreement (CISMOA). 
  • It comes into force immediately and is valid for a period of 10 years.
  • It would facilitate access to advanced defense systems and enable India to optimally utilize its existing U.S.-origin platforms. 
  • COMCASA allows India to procure and transfer specialized equipment for encrypted communications for US origin military platforms like the C-17, C-130 and P-8Is.

Basic Exchange and Cooperation Agreement (BECA):

  • BECA is the last of the four foundational agreements. It is yet to be signed between the two nations.
  • It facilitates exchange of geospatial information
  • It would set a framework through which the US could share sensitive data to aid targeting and navigation with India.
  • These agreements can bring military advantage to India though they have been politically contentious. Also, it is feared that they may undermine India’s military autonomy.

About  Defence Acquisition Council

  • The DAC is the Defence Ministry’s highest decision-making body for capital acquisition proposals forwarded by the Indian armed forces.
  • It is headed by the Defence Minister.
  • It was set up in 2001 as part of the post-Kargil reforms in the defence sector.
  • It approves the long-term integrated perspective plan for the forces, accords acceptance of necessity (AON) to begin acquisition proposals, and grant’s its approval to all major deals through all their important phases.
  • It also has the power to approve any deviations in an acquisition, and recommends all big capital defence purchases for approval of the Cabinet committee on security (CCS) headed by the Prime Minister.


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