Air India One - A deeper look

The centre’s acquisition of 2 state of the art Boeing 777-300 ERs planes from the US have a high chance of arriving in Delhi by next week, say sources. We take a look at their features and the impact they will have on India.

The Air India One Plane | Wikipedia

More than half a year after the 'Howdys' and the 'Namastes', India finally sees the results of the meetings; 2 Boeing 777-300 ERs planes acquired from none other than Trump himself known as Air India One. The planes being acquired by the centre are highly modified aircrafts with in-built systems. The 2 major systems on the aircraft include the Large Aircraft Infrared Countermeasures (LAIRCM) and Self-Protection Suites (SPS). Apart from this, the aircrafts are fitted with state of the art communication and tracking systems. The planes just like their US counterparts will be capable of functioning as full fledged command centers without being hacked or tapped, should the need arise. The features were taken directly from the US Air Force One planes. The Interior facilities include a big cabin for VVIP members, seats for the accompanying entourage, a conference room and an on-board medical centre. The deal also includes Advanced Integrated Defensive Electronic Warfare Suites (AIDEWS).

The Centre says the planes were acquired to allow the President, Prime Minister and Vice President to travel longer distances with state-of-the-art protection. The previously used Boeing 747 aircrafts were only capable of flying 10 hours after which they required refueling. These new aircrafts will be capable of travelling for 17 hours without stopping for fuel. These aircrafts will make up the new VVIP fleet of the IAF. For shorter distances, aircrafts from IAF’s Communication Squadron Boeing business jet and Embraer executive jets are used. They also noted that the aircrafts will improve India’s capability to deter regional threats with the SPS facilitating a more robust capability into areas of increased missile threats.

The aircrafts, although being received by Air India, will be operated by the Indian Air Force. Air India One will be their call sign until the time of acquisition, post which the planes will be called Air Force One, exactly like their US counterparts. The planes will sport stripes across the body in the Indian tricolour with India written on both sides alongside a large Ashoka Chakra. Further, the tail of the plane will sport the Indian flag. How does all this affect India and you, the reader? Glad you asked.

The acquisition of these aircrafts has not been cheap with the total cost coming up to ₹190 Billion (not including the cost of operation after acquisition). Considering Prime Minister Modi’s 84 trips over the last 5 years cost ₹65.9 billion, we can easily deduce that the functioning of the new aircrafts will cost more than ₹12 billion on an annual basis. This cost falls on the shoulders of Indian taxpayers. To put it in context, total cost accounts for 0.2% of India’s annual GDP. That amount is equivalent to more than 20% of India’s annual healthcare expenditure. Add to this the cost of advertisements released by the Information and Broadcasting Ministry every time the VVIPs fly and the state-of-the-art planes soon start looking like white elephants.

It almost seems like an identity crisis for India; a shroud of supremacy to look like the United States. But in reality, a nation that stills suffers with poverty, hunger, illiteracy, lack of healthcare and most importantly, a corrupt system.