The Indian Government has cleared a potential procurement of Boeing-built P-8I maritime surveillance aircraft as part of a wider spending plan to boost the country’s defence capabilities.

The Indian Ministry of Defence’s (MoD) decision-making body on matters related to procurement, the Defence Acquisition Council (DAC), has approved the purchase of defence equipment valued as much as Rs228bn ($3.18bn).

The approval sets the stage for the Indian Navy to acquire additional P-8I aircraft that can be used for anti-surface and anti-submarine warfare, and intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance missions.

The 39.47m-long P-8I is the Indian variant of the P-8A Poseidon, which is based on the Next-Generation 737-800 platform.

Boeing delivered eight aircraft to the Indian Navy by 2015 under a contract signed in 2009.

The company is expected to deliver a further four P-8I aircraft by 2021-22. The number of aircraft approved for acquisition by the DAC on 28 November has not been disclosed.

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Chaired by Indian Defence Minister Rajnath Singh, the body also greenlighted the acquisition of Twin Engine Heavy Helicopters (TEHH) for the Indian Coast Guard.

The aircraft is intended to support the coast guard in tackling maritime terrorism and conducting search and rescue operations.

Meanwhile, in a boost to the government’s ‘Make In India’ efforts to boost local manufacturing capabilities in the defence sector, the MoD approved the acquisition of thermal imaging night sights for assault rifles.

Set to be designed, developed and produced locally by the Indian private industry, the night sights are meant for use by forces on the frontline.

The equipment will strengthen the capability of the troops to engage long-range targets at night and in all weather conditions.