New Delhi: Fitted with state-of-the-art missile defence systems, two specially designed and custom-made B-777 planes will be operated by Air Force pilots to fly Prime Minister Narendra Modi and other top Indian dignitaries from July next year, a report from PTI stated.
Air India Engineering Services Limited (AIESL), which is a subsidiary of Air India, will take care of the maintenance of the aircraft, a senior official told PTI.
The missile defence systems will make PM Modi’s aircraft as secure as the Boeing 747-200B used by US President Donald Trump. These two Boeing 777-300ER aircraft are being designed at Boeing’s Dallas facility and will arrive in India in June 2020. They will have the call sign ‘Air India One’.
These two aircraft will be specifically used for three dignitaries – the President, Vice President and Prime Minister. At present Prime Minister, President Ram Nath Kovind and Vice President M Venkaiah Naidu fly on Air India’s B747 planes. In February, the US agreed to sell the two defence systems to India at a cost of $190 million.
Usually, Air India pilots fly these B-747 aircraft for the dignitaries and are maintained by the AIESL team. When these B-747 aircraft are not in use for dignitaries, they are used for commercial purpose.
One official from Air India told PTI that 4-6 pilots of the IAF have already been trained by Air India to fly the B-777 planes. “Some other pilots of IAF will come for training soon,” he added.
Decked up with state-of-the-art missile defence systems called Large Aircraft Infrared Countermeasures (LAIRCM) and Self-Protection Suites (SPS), these two aircraft can jam enemy radar frequencies and intercept advanced intermediate-range missile systems without crew members intervening in the process.
(With inputs from agencies)