New Delhi: India’s plans to become a regional maintenance, repair and overhaul (MRO) hub have taken a significant step forward. The Indian Navy has contracted American aviation major Boeing and India’s Air Works to undertake heavy maintenance checks of three P-8I long-range maritime patrol and anti-submarine warfare aircraft.
The work is being done at Air Works’s facility in Hosur, Tamil Nadu.
Sources in the defence and security establishment told ThePrint that the three P-8Is are undergoing heavy maintenance checks simultaneously.
The simultaneous maintenance of three systems is usually associated with MRO bases in America and Japan. Thus, this move reflects the growing ability, capacity, and infrastructure of India’s MRO industry, the sources added.
In 2021, the Union government had declared its ambition to make India a hub for MRO with a new, liberalised policy.
In February 2022, Boeing delivered the 12th P-8I long-range maritime patrol aircraft to the Indian Navy. The navy had received the first of the P-8Is in 2013, and at the time, became the first country apart from the United States to operate this aircraft.
According to Boeing, the P-8I is “a multi-mission maritime patrol aircraft, excelling at anti-submarine warfare; anti-surface warfare; intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance and search and rescue”.
According to reports, the aircraft was used for reconnaissance in Ladakh at the western sector of the Line of Actual Control (LAC), amidst the standoff with China in 2020 and 2021.
Making India an MRO hub
In a statement, Surendra Ahuja, director, Boeing Defence India, said, “We are proud to build on our existing collaboration with Air Works that enables us to generate significant value for our defence customers in India and contribute towards the government’s vision of making India an MRO hub for the region.”
Boeing also declared in the statement that its collaboration with Air Works “was an important first step under the Boeing India Repair Development and Sustainment (BIRDS) hub launched last year. The BIRDS hub envisions a collaboration with key local companies and businesses to develop India into an aviation and defence repair and sustainment hub.”
While Air Works and Boeing had undertaken maintenance checks of the P-8Is earlier, these were Phase 32-level checks. Under the new agreement, these have now been elevated to Phase 48-level checks, reflecting an enhanced level of scale and operation.
Sources said it was a very significant development for all three P-8Is to be maintained simultaneously, as it reflects a scale of operation that requires immense capacity and technology.
Further, Boeing and Air Works are also working together to carry out MRO for the landing gear of 737 VVIP aircraft of the Indian Air Force.
(Edited by Rohan Manoj)