Boeing is now in discussions with Indian industry for offset deals on the newly-minted, $2.1 billion contract to supply at least eight P-8I Poseidon maritime patrol aircraft.

The company's search is focused on finding structural and avionics partners to fulfill the P-8I's offset requirement, reportedly worth 30% of the deal's overall value.

“We are working with a number of suppliers in India to work out the details. That is ongoing right now,” says Bob Feldmann, Boeing vice-president and programme manager for the P-8I.

The Indian navy's selection of the P-8I is the first win for Boeing’s larger campaign to become entrenched in the Indian defence market. The manufacturer is also offering the F/A-18E/F Super Hornet for the Indian air force’s medium multirole combat aircraft contract.

The P-8I deal could be followed by orders for more, as the Indian navy seeks to replace all its Tupolev Tu-142s.

“Ultimately, it’s the Indian government’s and Indian navy’s call as to what their need is, but we expect more P-8s to be added in the future,” Feldmann says. “Certainly, it appears that way to us.”

India has purchased the first batch of eight P-8I airframes and mission systems as a direct commercial sale. A range of weapons, including sonobuoys, torpedos and Boeing AGM-84 Harpoon anti-ship missiles, will be added through the US government's Foreign Military Sales system. Indian officials have not informed Boeing of any requirements to integrate other weapons, such as the supersonic Brahmos anti-ship missile being developed by India and Russia.

The Indian contract must now be cleared for export by the US Department of State and approved by Congress.

Boeing has “export authority for a tremendous amount of this weapon system, or we would not be at this point where we are in programme,” Feldmann says. “We are confident that Congressional notification will occur and then we will go forward with the whole programme.”

Boeing is preparing for the maiden flight of its first flight test prototype of the US Navy's P-8A multi-mission maritime aircraft in the third quarter of 2009. Both the USN’s first P-8A unit and India’s first P-8I are scheduled to enter service in fiscal year 2013, with deliveries of New Delhi's first eight aircraft to conclude by 2015.