Indian prime minister Narendra Modi and other VVIPs will soon take delivery of two Boeing planes fitted with state-of-the-art missile defence systems, though coronavirus means they will have to wait a little longer for them.
Custom Boeing 777s for VVIPs won’t be delivered in July as expected
The Indian government is waiting to receive two specially modified Boeing 777-300ER planes (previously in service with Air India) for the exclusive use of prime minister Narendra Modi and other top dignitaries.
The original plan was for the planes to be delivered in July, though the Economic Times now reports this has been delayed by a couple of months.
"There has been some delay, primarily because of COVID-19. The two planes are likely to be delivered by September," officials told the newspaper.
Once in service, the two jets will be operated by pilots from the Indian Air Force, and not Air India - though they will be maintained by Air India Engineering Services Limited, a subsidiary of the national flag carrier.
Photos of the 777s have been shared on Twitter:
At the moment, Mr Modi, the president and other top brass fly on Boeing 747 aircraft owned by Air India, (which are otherwise used for regular passenger flights) with the call sign ‘Air India One’.
All the bells and whistles
The refitted Boeing 777 planes will be equipped with state-of-the-art missile defence systems called Large Aircraft Infrared Countermeasures (LAIRCM) and Self-Protection Suites (SPS), sold by the US at a cost of USD 190m.
On board technology is said to include systems to jam enemy radar frequencies and divert heat-seeking missiles. Just like Air Force One, the new planes will have an unlimited range and are capable of flying around the world in one go.
They can also be re-fuelled in mid-air, in the event of an emergency situation.
It seems Mr Modi will - like the rest of us - have to wait a little longer before he starts jetting around the world, as his new specially adapted Boeing 777 planes are being delayed until September.
What do you make of the PM’s new planes?