India is readying requests for proposals for two maritime patrol requirements: the navy's medium-range maritime reconnaissance (MRMR) aircraft and the coastguard's medium maritime patrol (MMP) aircraft. Both are likely to be for six aircraft initially, with options for six more, say industry sources, although the initial requirement for the MMP could be as high as nine aircraft.
Speaking to Flight International at the Defexpo India show, where airframers displayed models of maritime patrol aircraft, the sources indicate that requests linked to both projects are expected in 2012, with the coastguard's process to start in April or May. India issued requests for information (RFI) for both acquisitions in 2010.
Unlike the navy's long-range maritime patrol aircraft requirement, which will be filled by the Boeing 737-based P-8I Neptune, the RFI suggests India will not require the MRMR to have anti-submarine warfare capabilities, with the aircraft instead to be focused on the maritime patrol mission and capable of carrying anti-ship missiles. It will replace India's 12 Britten-Norman BN-2 Islanders.
In the 2010 RFI, the navy stated that the MRMR aircraft will require a top speed of 300kt (555km/h) or greater and a patrol speed of 200kt. It will require a full self-protection suite, including radar and laser warning receivers, an active electronically scanned array surface-search radar and a forward looking infrared sensor.
One possible contender for the requirement could include a variant of the P-8I, although Boeing representatives at the show said they want to see India's exact requirements before deciding how to address the campaign. A P-8I variant would make sense from a logistical and crew-training perspective given that India has already ordered eight P-8Is for long-range patrol.
Sources say the MMP requirement is less well-defined. "Based on the RFI, the MMP is a really big beast," says one source from a European airframer. The request called for a diverse range of missions, including search and rescue, anti-surface warfare, environmental monitoring and medical evacuation with three intensive care stations.
"We're not sure if all the capabilities need to be present all the time, or whether they can be changed in or out," says the source.