NEW DELHI — Coinciding with a visit by Pentagon acquisition chief Frank Kendall, India today awarded Boeing a $1 billion contract for the purchase of four more P-8I maritime surveillance aircraft to be flown by the country's navy pilots.

The contract for the planes sets deliveries to be completed within the next three years, according to a senior ministry of defense official who requested not to be named.

Boeing executives were unavailable for comments.

The Indian navy already operates eight P-8I aircraft equipped with Harpoon missiles, lightweight torpedoes and rockets for anti-submarine and surveillance operations over the Indian Ocean.

India was the first international customer to buy P-8I aircraft from the United States.

An earlier $2.1 billion contract, signed in January 2009, was for the purchase of eight planes, a variant of the P-8A Poseidon. The aircraft are meant to replace eight Russian 
Tu-142 maritime aircraft bought in 1988.

Vivek Raghuvanshi is the India correspondent for Defense News.

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