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US offers old version of Orion to India
Josy Joseph in New Delhi | September 18, 2003 18:49 IST
Americans have offered the Indian Navy the P3B version, not the latest P3C, of the Orion long-range antisubmarine and maritime surveillance aircraft.
New Delhi is favourably considering the offer, saying the P3B will be upgraded with the latest systems and can be a potent force in the seas around India.
The P3B's price will also be "much less" than the $36 million for a P3C, according to navy sources.
Last week, an American delegation made a presentation at the naval headquarters in New Delhi.
The delegation said the planes would be refurbished and its systems upgraded by the Lockheed Martin Aeronautical Systems Company, providing the aircraft at least 15,000 flying hours.
"We will get the latest radars and support systems on board. There won't be any compromise on those," an Indian officer said.
However, he did not say if the Americans would provide India with the Harpoon cruise missiles, SLAM missiles, Maverick air-to-ground missiles, MK-46/50 torpedoes, and other ammunitions.
The P3C has highly advanced submarine detection sensors, including Directional Frequency and Ranging Sonobuoys and Magnetic Anomaly Detection.
Pakistan has P3Cs and they have "similar capabilities, we believe", the officer said.
The US had extensively deployed P3Cs during its invasion of Iraq. The aircraft can relay real-time battlefield pictures and can also be used for ground attacks.
The plane can also launch sophisticated laser guided weapons.
The plane was introduced into the US Navy sometime in early 1960s and the first version was P3V. Later, a design change was introduced and it became P3. Over the past 40 years it has had three major models: P3A, P3B and P3C.
The P3B, which is more than a decade old, is lying almost unused in the US Navy inventory.
India wants to acquire eight to 10 of these massive aircraft, which have four engines and can fly nonstop for a long period, for maritime purposes.
Right now the Indian Navy's long-range reconnaissance ability leaves much to be desired, especially after two IL-38s collided over Goa last year. Three IL-38s remain in the fleet, besides some Dorniers. India feels those are inadequate.