Wednesday, February 1, 2023
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A new plane for Modi — high-tech Air India One with missile defence system arrives next week

A team consisting of senior officers from Air India, IAF and security agencies are in the US to finish the formalities and bring the aircraft to India.

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New Delhi: Air India One, the highly customised wide-bodied Boeing 777-300 ERs, meant exclusively for the Indian Prime Minister, President and the Vice-President, is set to land in Delhi by early next week, ThePrint has learnt.

Sources in the defence and security establishment said that while the first aircraft will land next week, the second will arrive by the end of this year.

The aircraft, which has its own missile defence system, called the Large Aircraft Infrared Countermeasures (LAIRCM) and Self-Protection Suites (SPS) besides state-of-the-art communication system, will be operated by the Indian Air Force (IAF), although Air India would receive it.

As and when the handover to the IAF is complete, the call sign is likely to change from Air India One to Air Force One, just like the one used by American Presidents.

A team consisting of senior officers from Air India, IAF and security agencies are already in the US to finish the formalities and bring the aircraft to India.

The aircraft has Bharat and India written over it, besides the Ashoka emblem.

At present, VVIPs travel long hours on Air India’s Boeing 747 aircraft. However, the aircraft is not capable of flying more than 10 hours without refuelling. The new aircraft can fly over 17 hours continuously without refuelling.

For shorter distances, aircraft from IAF’s Communications Squadron’s VVIP fleet of Boeing business jet and Embraer executive jet are used.

The two new 777-300 ERs are part of the 2005 decision to buy 68 aircraft from Boeing.

Also read: Mystery of 1966 Air India crash, that killed nuclear pioneer Bhabha, is unravelling bit by bit

Air India One is heavily modified

Sources said that the two new aircraft have been heavily modified keeping in mind that the planes are exclusively meant for VVIPs.

The plane has the capability to function as a full-fledged flying command centre — thanks to its advanced and secure communication system, which facilitates audio and video communication without being hacked or tapped, just like the American Air Force One, sources added.

The interior of the aircraft has been divided into a big cabin for VVIP passengers, a mini medical centre, conference room and also seats for the accompanying entourage.

Air India One to have state-of-art defence system

The Air India One will be equipped with a Self-Protection Suite, capable of jamming enemy radar frequencies, diverting heat-seeking missiles and intercepting advanced intermediate range missile systems. All this can be done without the intervention of the crew.

In February last year, the US Defence Security Cooperation Agency had, in a notification to the Congress, said the US had approved the purchase of LAIRCAM and SPS for an estimated cost of USD 190 million.

The defence systems, which would bring security of Air India One at par with that of Air Force One, would be installed in two Boeing 777 Head-of-State aircraft, the Pentagon said.

LAIRCM is for protecting large aircraft from man-portable missiles. Once installed, the LAIRCM system increases crew-warning time, decreases false alarm rates and automatically counters advanced intermediate range missile systems, according to the Federation of American Scientists.

The missile warning subsystem will use multiple sensors to provide full spatial coverage.

The counter-measures subsystem will use lasers mounted in pointer-tracker turret assemblies. It also automatically counters advanced intermediate range missile systems with no action required by the crew, the report said.

The pilot will simply be informed that a threat missile was detected and jammed.

Noting that it will improve India’s capability to deter regional threats, the Congressional notification said SPS will facilitate a more robust capability into areas of increased missile threats.

According to the notification, India had requested to buy two SPS consisting of AN/AAQ 24(V)N Large Aircraft Infrared Countermeasures, ALQ-211(V)8 Advanced Integrated Defensive Electronic Warfare Suite (AIDEWS) and AN/ALE-47 Counter-Measures Dispensing System (CMDS) to protect two Boeing-777 Head-of-State aircraft.

“This potential sale would include 12 Guardian Laser Transmitter Assemblies AN/AAQ-24 (V)N (6 installed and 6 spares), eight (8) LAIRCM System Processor Replacements (LSPR) AN/AAQ-24 (V)N (2 installed and 6 spares); twenty-three (23) Missile Warning Sensors (MWS) for AN/AAQ-24 (V)N (12 installed and 11 spares), five (5) AN/ALE-47 Counter-Measures Dispensing System (CMDS) (2 installed and 3 spares),” the notification said.

It added that the deal also included Advanced Integrated Defensive Electronic Warfare Suites (AIDEWS), among others.

Also read: Sell Air India only to an Indian entity, RSS tells Modi govt


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  1. That money could have been spent on buying proper equipmemt for soldiers fighting at Siachen and eating sub-standard food. For instance.

  2. Security and protection of a popular , PM (leader) may be enhanced . But to make it public is not feasible. Anyhow a very good effort .

    • ‘Security and protection of a popular , PM (leader) may be enhanced . ‘

      He is more than a PM, he is a Hindu godman. What more enhancement would you like for the security of your infallible Hindu godman ?

  3. Why not?
    Your post like this pushing people away from you towards Modi. You are forgetting that Modi is PM and a honour for the country to have such privileges.
    In June 1986, Rajiv Gandhi had to get AIR INDIA Jumbo refurbished to carry his entourage to USA.
    People understood and nobody questioned him.
    You want Indian PM travel like that in todays world, when we can afford it.
    People who write such articles are the same ones, who work in NGOs, for Human Rights.
    The subverting intelligentia, aided by foreign funds.
    They sit in cosy settings under air conditioners, siphoning part of the funds for their own benefits.
    They go abroad and malign the country in various fora.
    The few people who want the majority toe their line and be submissive, so that they can corner all benefits on the sly, as was till recently.

    • ‘You want Indian PM travel like that in todays world, when we can afford it.’

      Who is ‘we’ ? Not the millions who walked to their villages.

      You are a Brahmin sitting abroad and imagining ‘we’ are on a par with developed countries.

      Modi plays the ascetic Hindu at election time, staying in a cave for a camera. But otherwise, he is a typical Third World leader, using state privileges for personal interest.

      Not exactly ‘na khaunga, na khane dunga’. Modi does not allow ordinary Indians to eat, decapitating them with demonetisation, while he and his cronies eats the public’s share.

      The reasons Hindus like you support Modi are two : (1) he beat up Muslims, and it makes Hindus feel they are powerful (2) he gives Hindus the delusion they are rubbing shoulders with the US.

      Having a plane like the POTUS is making the statement ‘India is important now like the US, and I am like the US President’.

      • Dear Troll,
        By “we”, he is referring to us, Taxpayers. Ever paid a single dime in form of taxes? We all know theprint is anti-bjp, anti-government. Who according to you is a better politician in current times? RaGa the kid? or Mr. what happened to my wife? or Mrs. Pizza? Jo marzi kar le, Modi is here to stay. I want to see my country on top, with the likes of US, UK and even dethroning them someday. I am proud that we are on a right path. Did you forget the bengal famine of the 40’s. Thank your stars that Congress/Didi is not in power.

    • Mr Rajesh Kulkarni: You justify Mod’s purchase of 2 – not just 1 – expensive aircraft at a time when the nation is reeling under economic, social, health and defence crises by comparing it with Rajiv Gandhi’s purchase of a Boeing 747 in the 1980s. Well, Rajiv Gandhi’s purchase was wrong and so is Modi’s. Wastage of state funds by the Congress does not give the BJP any moral right to continue such wastage. Two wrongs do not make a right Sir.

      I live in Western Europe and see how top politicians and public officials travel and that should be a lesson for Indian politicians. The vast majority of them use public transportation when they can. And they fly regular commercial airline schedules whenever possible. I have on several occasions travelled in the same subway train, standing alongside the Prime Minister and nobody batted an eyelid. Admittedly, security has become a consideration these days but that too can be dealt with without burning a hole in the Exchequer. As a journalist once wrote in a newspaper here: “The poorer the country, the more flamboyant is the display of costly status symbols”. I have myself witnessed the Indian Ambassador show off his chauffeur driven Mercedes-Benz whilst the Danish Ambassador travelled in a bicycle.

      You go on to rail against Human Rights and NGOs. Well, these organisations are encouraged and respected in most free and democratic countries who have little to be embarrassed about and have few skeletons in their cupboards. However, non-democratic, repressive regimes like Turkey, Russia, Belarus, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, Sri Lanka, China etc. have to conceal their human rights abuses or pogroms do not tolerate criticism and freedoms are limited. Sadly, India is joining the ranks of these nations where power hungry autocrats rule with impunity.

      The problem with banning, rather than by engaging with NGOs is that news always gets out, particularly in the Internet age of today. Do you think that news about the Godhra pogroms did not come out ? Do you believe that the CAA legislation which had uncanny resemblences to the Nazi persecution of Jews can be hidden? Do you think that the world does not know about the building of detention camps for “termites” a.k.a. Muslims ? Whether you allow the NGOs to operate freely or not, news about repression and state violence gets out. And I am not for a moment trying to say that the international community is not cynical and hypocritical and applies different standards to different countries.

      Yes, there are NGOs that masquerade as charities and indulge in less charitable activities such as terrorism, evangelical activities, supporting local subversive lements and so on. But many NGOs do nothing of that sort. For instance, Médicins sans Frontières (Doctors without Borders), The Red Cross, Save the Children, Oxfam, Amnesty International, Bill & Melinda HAtes Foundation, Khalsa Aid, EcoSikhs, United Sikhs etc. perform solid work – often during wars and other natural catastrophes. One of the most visible of NGOs – if they can be called that – are Sikh Gurudwaras that have opened their communal kitchens “langars” to the poor in the USA and UK reeling under the COVID crisis. Not exactly people who

      “.. sit in cosy settings under air conditioners, siphoning part of the funds for their own benefits. They go abroad and malign the country in various fora ..”

      Haven’t Sikh Gurudwaras and NGOs done excellent grassroots work for the poor – in India and abroad Mr Kulkarni? They have fed the hungry Mr Rajesh Kulkarni haven’t they Sir? Or have they been sitting in air-conditioned offices as you allege?

      2 costly planes with massive yearly maintenance costs could have fed a lot of hungry people in India Mr Kulkarni. But I note that neither you, nor the man you worship blindly think that way. After all, Gujarat does not always produce a man who believes in non-violence and modesty does it Mr Kulkarni?

  4. Since the economy is in excellent shape, the Chinese have been thrashed and do not threaten India anymore, the foundation stone of the temple has been laid in Ayodhya, lunchings of innocent Muslims have stopped and COVID is fully under control, India now has the money to buy the PM not one but two expensive toys to go from A to B.

    Of course, unlike the poor migrants who had to march on empty stomachs, you can’t expect the PM to not travel in style can you ?

  5. If you dive deeper into the article it clearly says that “The two new 777-300 ERs are part of the 2005 decision to buy 68 aircraft from Boeing” but the headline is meant to show that the current government had sanctioned this order esp for Modi. Any PM irrespective of his party affiliation would have gotten this planes per the manufacturer’s timeline and the fine print of the deal from 2005. I feel this is an example of sensationalizing something that has no real affect on common people. Headlines tailored to create controversy where there is none. We need good journalism, clearly given the reputation of Print, it is very important that they need to be more responsible and held accountable for fanning unnecessary controversy.

  6. @Alex , I love your reporting and details of defense topic. But please don’t mind me pointing to the inherent bias our media carries , while addressing PM Modi. For a foreign prime minister we will always use the title while addressing him or her . But for our prime minister it is simply Modi, not even a Mr. salutation.

  7. Plz buy a Good army Soldier from the Market
    Allready you have a good fightet jet and missile systems
    Free advice from your Neighbour’s

  8. The headline of your story shows your anti-Modi mindset. This shows that The Print is behaving like “Presstitutes”. Shame on you. The headline is all malicious and wrong. The plane is for the PM of our country and not for Mr. Modi. I am shocked to see such a basic journalistic mistake. Shekhar Gupta should be ashamed that he is running such a third rate organisation. Never I am going to read the Print again. I am also going to urge others to do the same. Bad show.

  9. Yes. They deserve. When people hilding no position in Govt. Like Gandhis coukd get, why not our PM & President.

  10. The chai wallah cum chowkidar is showing off that he is on a par with US President. He flies in his own plane, and wow India is thereby a great power !

    Typical vanity of a Third World leader.

  11. It is for the Indian Prime Minister, whoever she/he is, not for Mr. Modi. Our Media accuses Mr. Modi of encouraging a personality cult but the Media itself is encouraging it by including the PM’s name everywhere. Why not say the PM instead of Mr. Modi in the title of this article? Why not say ‘the BJP Government’ instead of ‘Modi Government’ ?

    • Ms Anuradha Raghavan: Well, in autocratic countries like India, Turkey, Belarus, China etc. there is no real devolution or delegation of power and the strongman at the top is the one who calls the shots. Although the facade of democracy may be there in that there are elections, institutions such as the judiciary, a Constitution etc. Under the Modi reign, the Prime Ministership has been de facto transformed into a Presidential setup with more or less absolute power in the hands of Modi. That has been visible, right from 2014 when he was anointed PM of India. We all know that it is Modi who decides – not Sushma Swaraj (RIP), not Jaishankar Subramanian, not Nirmala Sitharaman, not the top level civil servants like Raghuram Rajan, Arvind Subramaninan, Urjit Patel and so on. The Modi personality cult which the PM himself encourages and cultivates through PR agencies such as APCO Worldwide. And a fawning, unquestioning bunch of paid media outlets does the rest to create this aura of the invincible, infallible, 56 inch chested Gujarathi genius.

      Those facts apart, you assert that the aircraft – 2 extremely expensive ones to be precise – are for the PM and not for the person Modi. Well, shouldn’t the PM then not have realised the dire economic straits the country is in and stopped this order? Yes, I am aware of the fact that we are not dealing with the now long dead modest Gujarathi who epitomised simplicity, respect for others, non-violence, compassion etc. but his rank opposite. But still, Ms Raghavan, wouldn’t you have cancelled the order for these aircraft had you been the PM ? Would you have been so callous that you would have chosen to ignore the immense suffering caused by the COVID crisis, the perilous economic condition the country finds itself in, the dangerous situation at the borders with China and so on? Wouldn’t you have found alternative usage for the huge outlays that these aircraft entail ?

      But then you probably have not heard of 2 famous adage penned by the British politician and historian Lord Acton (1834-1903):

      “Power corrupts, absolute power corrupts absolutely”

      “Everybody likes to get as much power as circumstances allow, and nobody will vote for a self-denying ordinance”.

      Clearly, Modi is not saying no to a spot of luxury. Even in these COVID times.

  12. This is all nice….. but do you really need to share all these intricate details on a silly platform like The Print?
    The Print is obviously not concerned about the security of our country’s leaders?
    Why not just state that the aircraft has advanced security features and leave it at that?
    Will you publish your passwords online for the world to see, you stupid man?

    • If the Govt themselves releases such details out of a sense of bloated pride, what’s the harm in publishing this ?

      • Exactly Mr Sudarshan Nityananda !

        Indeed, bragging about buying these 2 expensive toys for one vain Gujarathi when the bulk of the nation is unsure about whether they will get their next square meal in these times of economic distress smacks of callousness.

    • Did he think of the citizens and whether they had the money and security to reach their villages after Covid ?

      He puts on the air of a Hindu ascetic sometimes but he is like the typical Hindu godman with 20 Rolls Royces in his ashram.

    • Well said…Any defence details are not to be shared in publicin general , though some interested people will get whatever theur purpose , praise or to hatm.

    • You realise that all of this is public information right? Furthermore, the common man knowing this will not make a difference and any governments/ agencies with power will already know this anyway. If it really is highly classified information that can be a security threat, the press would not know it in the first place.

    • Ha Ha Ha………….you mean to say that Print has such powerful intelligence wing that they are able to collect top secret details! And there are ample documentaries detailing Airforce 1 , American President’s aircrafts!
      What a stupid comment. Obviously coming via “Bhakta” route!

  13. Well, just to double check if everything works well, they should try and fly it over the Aksai Chin plateau.

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