New Delhi: Hard on the heels of reports emanating in the media last week that India was all set to award an over $1-billion deal to American global aerospace giant Lockheed Martin for the supply of six C-130J 'Super Hercules' aircraft, fresh reports have emerged that it may now be the turn of long standing rival Boeing to land a mega contract as well for the supply of eight long-range maritime reconnaissance (LRMR) patrol aircraft.
Boeing's offering, the P-8i, is a more advanced version of the long serving P-3C Orion.
The yet to be fully developed P-8i is based on Boeing's 737 platform. It underwent extensive trials on a proxy platform along with the EADS' Airbus platform, the A319. The EADS version is also undeveloped and like the Boeing P-8i it too was tested on a proxy platform.
Reports last year had said that the Indian Navy had opted for the Boeing offering over the EADS one.
Now reports suggest that a contract is likely to be signed soon. According to reports, the first P-8i will be delivered sometime in mid-2012, and all the eight by mid-2015. These aircraft are scheduled to replace the Indian Navy's eight ageing Tupolev-142Ms.
If the contract is indeed offered to Boeing then, at around $2 billion, it will become the biggest-ever defence contract with the US, eclipsing even Lockheed Martin's likely deal for the C-130Js, which is being valued at around $1 billion.
With the Indian Navy losing two of its TU-124Ms in a catastrophic accident the US had offered to lease it two P-3C Orion's as a replacement, which failed to find favour with the Indian government.