In early 2020, the Indian military will deploy a naval aircraft to France’s Reunion island as part of a joint surveillance mission with France.
Indian news publication The Wire reports French President Emmanuel Macron revealing this during his visit to France’s overseas territories last week.
“We are working very closely with India. In the first quarter of 2020, a patrol aircraft from the Indian Navy will deployed at La Reunion to participate in surveillance missions,” said Macron.
France administers the Reunion and Mayotte islands and French Southern and Atlantic Lands. In March last year, Macron visited India and unveiled a joint vision for India-France cooperation in the Indian Ocean region. The two countries also agreed to allow each other to use respective military facilities.
India has a number of aircraft it could send to Reunion, the most likely candidate being its new P-8 Poseidon maritime patrol aircraft. It ordered an initial eight in 2009, four more in 2016 and in June this year approved an order for another ten. These aircraft are equipped with a Telephonics sea and air search radar, magnetic anomaly detector and provision for AGM-84L Harpoon II anti-ship missiles, AGM-84H SLAM-ER missiles, mines, Mk 54 torpedoes and depth charges.
India also has several ageing Il-38 maritime patrol aircraft in service along with dozens of smaller Do 228s. The upgraded Il-38SD aircraft can carry Brhamos cruise missiles and Kh-35 anti-ship missiles.