When Prime Minister Narendra Modi visits Japan for the 13th India-Japan Annual Summit, later this month, the purchase of 12 ShinMaywa US-2i Amphibious and Rescue (SAR) aircraft for $1.65 billion will be on the table for discussions. Senior officers confirmed to FE Online that during the two day visit starting Oct 28, Prime Minister Modi and Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe are expected to push for government to government (G2G) deal for these amphibious planes, to ensure that there are no delays and there is transparency.
According to a senior Indian Navy officer, both sides are willing to negotiate through G2G and at lower price for the US-2i amphibious aircraft from Japan, which is expected to be manufactured in India under the Make in India initiative.
“The deal which had been put on a back burner is now back on track as the government is looking at other countries to meet its defence requirements,” said a officer speaking on condition of anonymity.
As has been reported by FE earlier, besides manufacturing the aircraft, Tokyo has also offered to set up MRO facility in India. This and the possibility of exporting to a third country have come up for discussions between officers from both sides.
As part of strengthening its strategic ties with Japan, India has been keen on acquiring the ShinMaywa US-2i amphibious aircraft. At the DefExpo-2018, Mahindra Defence Systems, part of the Mahindra Group, signed a pact with Japan-based ShinMaywa Industries for manufacturing and assembling of amphibious aircraft in India.
The Indian Navy and the Indian Coast Guard are seeking 12-18 of these search and rescue aircraft (SAR) to expand their reach and capability. According to a navy officer “the plane will boost the operational logistics in areas like the far-flung but strategically critical Andaman and Nicobar Islands. These can also be used for landing spares and equipment in close proximity to warships on the high seas.”
Discussions for this aircraft have been going on between the two countries since 2011, however several issues including the transfer of technology, technicalities of exporting the plan has created the delay in closing the deal.
These aircraft are designed for air-sea search and rescue operations, and can transport 30 combat-ready soldiers to ‘hot zones’ in an emergency. The Indian Navy had sought information about an amphibian plane in late 2010 from Japanese ShinMaywa, Canada’s Bombardier for its CL-415 platform, Russia’s Beriev Be-200 and US/German Company Dornier for its Seastar CD2.