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Air India One: All you should know about the beast in which PM Modi will fly

New Delhi, Oct 03: The grand Air India One that will fly the Prime Minister, President and Vice President arrived in India. This is a B777 plane on the lines of Air Force One.

The B777 will be fitted with the state of the art defence systems, including missiles and jamming mechanisms.

Air India One: All you should know about the beast in which PM Modi will fly

The plane will have a state of the art missile defence system called as the Large Aircraft Infrared Countermeasures (LAIRCM) and Self-Protection Suites (SPS).

This aircraft will be operated not by the pilots of Air India, but from the Indian Air Force (IAF). The previous Boeing 747 plane used by the PM was operated by Air India pilots.

The B777 planes will be exclusively used for travel only by the dignitaries. The earlier 747 were usually used for commercial operations.

Just like the Air Force One, the new aircraft will have all the facilities onboard to function as a full fledged office with conference cabins.

The B777 matches the speed of Air Force One at almost 900 kilometres per hour. The plane features twin GE90-115 engines, a variant of the engine made for the -300ER.

The B777 planes will have state-of-the-art missile defence systems called Large Aircraft Infrared Countermeasures (LAIRCM) and Self-Protection Suites (SPS).

In February, the US agreed to sell the two defence systems to India at a cost of USD 190 million.

The aircraft includes a VVIP suit, two conference rooms, a press briefing room, a patient transfer unit, secure video telephony and sound proofing. It is also equipped with missile warning sensors, countermeasures dispensing system and self protection suits.

The government has paid Rs 4,632 crore towards the cost of these planes. Air India will no de-register these aircraft and hand them over to the Indian Air Force. These planes will be entered into the registry of the IAF and get a K-series registration number given to the military aircraft.

The security measures are on par with Air Force One and the plane will be capable of flying between India and the US without having to stop for refuelling.

One of the most important features would be the Self-Protection Suites which is used in Air Force One.

It may be recalled that the US had approved the purchase of two systems known as the Large Aircraft Infrared Countermeasures (LAIRCM) and Self Protection Suites for an estimated 190 million USD. The purpose is to protect the aircraft from man-portable missiles. The LAIRCM increases crew warning time, decreases false alarm rates and automatically counters advanced range missile systems.

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

Observing 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.

"India will have no problem absorbing and using this system," it said.

According to the notification, India had requested to buy two SPS consisting of AN/AAQ 24(V)N Large Aircraft Infrared Countermeasures (LAIRCM), ALQ-211(V)8 Advanced Integrated Defensive Electronic Warfare Suite (AIDEWS) and AN/ALE-47 Counter-Measures Dispensing System (CMDS) to protect two (2) Boeing-777 Head-of-State aircraft.

"This potential sale would include twelve 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

Also included in this sale are Advanced Integrated Defensive Electronic Warfare Suites (AIDEWS), LAIRCM CIURs, SCAs, HCCs, and UDM cards, initial spares, consumables, repair and return support and support equipment.

The department also assured that the sale will not "alter the basic military balance in the region"

The US is the second-largest arms supplier to India. It has already recognised India as a "major defence partner", a status that which commits the US to facilitate technology sharing with India

In 2018, the US granted India Strategic Trade Authorisation-1 (STA-1) status. India is the only South Asian country to get STA1 status and third Asian country after Japan and South Korea. The status eases defence procurement from the US. Last year both New Delhi and Washington signed COMCASA (Communications Compatibility and Security Agreement).

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