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Missile evading Air India One to arrive next month

Highlights
  • B-777 will be used as the next VVIP planes for being flown by the president, VP and prime minister
  • Making these planes fit for this high security duty will take about a year

American aircraft major Boeing will deliver two brand new B-777 to Air India this month, which will be used as the next VVIP planes for being flown by the president, VP and prime minister on their medium to long foreign trips. Once retrofitted with state-of-the-art security and communication systems, these two will replace the over 27-year-old Boeing 747 jumbo jets which have flying our top VVIPs across the globe. Making these planes fit for this high security duty will take about a year.

"The government is deciding who will operate these two B 777-300 extended range as AI, which as the pilots, engineers and expertise for operating this type of aircraft, is soon going to be sold off. A call will be taken if the Indian Air Force (IAF) should have the planes in its fleet with the required infrastructure," said a senior government official.

So it remains to be seen if our VVIP plane is known as IAF 1 or AI 1. Till that call is taken, these planes could be sent to Boeing in US for VVIP retrofitting and high-end security fixtures like anti-missile systems apart from latest communication equipment so that they can serve as flying PMOs when the PM is on board.

About two years back it was decided that post-modification, these planes will be handed over to IAF which would have then operated them with technical support of AI. Then there was a rethink on this as AI has the pilots, engineering and expertise for operating the Boeing 777s, and it was felt these aircraft should remain with AI once they are converted as VVIP jets.

The old Boeing 747s being used today for long international flights by the PM are perfectly safe to fly but due to their advanced age, they are fuel guzzlers. They also cannot fly long-haul routes like India-US nonstop and do so with a stop in Europe. AI has four B-747s of which two are kept for VVIP flying.

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