Govt expands MRMR, approves deal
By SP's Special Correspondent
Photo Credit : Airbus Military
February 29, 2012 : The Indian Navy's ambitious expansion in air assets moves forward with the government providing an all clear for Navy HQ to proceed with the procurement of nine new medium range maritime reconnaissance (MRMR) aircraft. In October 2010, the navy called for information (for the second time) from the global market to support the acquisition of MRMR aircraft with operating range of at least 350-Nm and patrol time of at least 3.5-hours.
The navy currently operates Tu-142, Il-38SD and Do-228s for varying degrees of maritime surveillance/reconnaissance, but will be moving to the jet regime for the first time on the role, with brand new Boeing P-8Is that begin delivery next year, and to be based at INS Rajali, Arakkonam. The nine new MRMR aircraft to be acquired will augment the mission spectrum profiles that will be satisfied by the 12 P-8Is long range maritime reconnaissance (LRMR) jets, and are likely to be based at INS Hansa, Goa. According to official documents, the MRMR will be used by the navy for maritime patrol, anti-surface warfare (two anti-ship missiles and jammer pod minimum), ELINT/ESM/ECM/COMINT and search and rescue.
The aircraft expected to vie for the deal include the Saab 2000, a 'lite' version of the Boeing P-8I Neptune, the Dassault Falcon 900 MPA, Alenia Aeronautica ATR-72 MP and the EADS CASA C-295 MPA. The navy's expanded maritime security duties, both coastal and in deep water, mean that it needs many more aircraft than earlier planned. In fact, the navy has already defined a need for at least 12 more (in addition to 12 ordered) LRMR aircraft, though it is not clear if it will choose to acquire more Boeing P-8Is, or float a fresh competition.