The second of the two special Boeing 777 aircraft is scheduled to reach Delhi today. The first of the two Boeings ordered for Prime Minister Narendra Modi, President Ram Nath Kovind and Vice President Venkaiah Naidu landed in India on October 1. The specially-modified Boeing 777-300 ERs offer the dignitaries meeting rooms and office space, as well as missile defence systems.
The two aircraft had joined Air India’s fleet in 2018 but were sent to Dallas for modification. The two planes are likely to incur retrofitting costs of Rs 8,400 crore. The call sign of the planes is ‘Air India One’ similar to the US President’s ‘Air Force One’. The aircraft are equipped with missile defence systems and can fly non-stop to the United States.
The planes were configured to create a make-shift office space and a sleeping area for the PM. The aircraft are equipped with self-protection suites (SPS) with infrared countermeasures, advanced integrated defensive electronic warfare suite, and a countermeasure system to protect them from incoming missiles. The Large Aircraft Infrared Countermeasures (LAIRCM) is an advanced missile detection system that automatically detects and jams enemy missile systems, without any action required by the pilot.
The aircraft also offer extraordinary comfort and are the best in terms of fuel efficiency. The planes’ advanced and secure communication system facilitates audio and video communication without being tapped or hacked. There’s a conference room, big cabin for VVIP passengers, as well as a mini medical centre for the accompanying entourage of officials or dignitaries.
The two aircraft will replace the nearly 25-year-old Air India One planes of Boeing 747 fleet. While the new aircraft can fly over 17 hours continuously without refuelling, the current one can’t fly more than 10 hours without refuelling.