The Indian Navy will look to source a new fleet of maritime patrol aircraft to replace an ageing fleet of 12 Britten-Norman Islander patrol aircraft. The Indian Navy expects to begin retiring the Islanders from service from around 2013. The Navy has already confirmed an order for eight Boeing P-8Is medium-range maritime surveillance aircraft.
The Navy may either transfer the Islanders to the Indian Coast Guard, or convert them for use as trainers. Neighbouring country Myanmar, which sourced two Islanders from India for its coastguard several years ago, may also be a candidate for some of the retiring aircraft.
Indian defence ministry sources said a request for proposal was imminent and a decision on the choice of aircraft could follow within a year.
Brazil's Embraer is a leading contender for the order as it already has a maritime patrol version of its EMB-145. It already has a order to modify the same type for an indigenous Indian Air Force airborne early warning and control platform.
However, other contenders in the fray could be turboprop alternatives such as maritime patrol variants of the ATR 72 and the EADS Casa C-295. Boeing could also offer a modified version of the P-8I, while Israel's Elta Systems has been pushing a maritime patrol variant of the Dassault Falcon 900 business jet.
India's Coast Guard also requires around six maritime patrol aircraft through a separate tender, with the ATR 42 and EADS Casa CN-235 as possible contenders.
India is the first export customer for Boeing's P-8 configuration.