01 Oct 2020
Boeing 777 'Air India One': All you need to know
The first of two custom-made Boeing 777 aircraft, which will be used to fly the President, the Vice President, and the Prime Minister, arrived in Delhi on Thursday.
Air India One, which is the call sign of the aircraft, landed at the Delhi airport around 3 pm.
The modified Boeing 777-300ER will now replace the 747-400 for VVIP duties. Here's what makes them special.
Aircraft has 'India' and 'Bharat' written across it
According to the Boeing website, the aircraft is 73.9 meters long, 18.5m tall, and has a wingspan of 64.8m.
The modified aircraft has 'India' written over it, along with 'Bharat' written in the Devanagiri script and an Ashoka emblem.
The interiors are divided into a big cabin for VVIPs, a mini medical center, conference room, and seats for the accompanying entourage, The Print reported.
It can function as a full-fledged command center
The plane features twin GE90-115 engines, a variant of the engine made for the -300ER.
It also has the potential to function as a full-fledged command center as it is equipped with an advanced and secure communication system. This allows audio and video communication mid-air without the threat of being hacked or tapped, similar to the Air Force One used by US Presidents.
Plane can fly long distances non-stop without refueling
The Boeing website states that the aircraft has a range of 13,649 km (i.e., it can fly Delhi to the US non-stop) and a cruise speech Mach 0.84 (over 1,000 km/hr).
The aircraft can also fly over 17 hours continuously without refueling, The Print reported. Further, it's capable of being refueled mid-air in the case of an emergency, similar to Air Force One planes.
It has advanced military defense systems
The aircraft is also retrofitted with advanced military defense systems and a reconfigured cabin.
The aircraft is equipped with Advanced Integrated Defensive Electronic Warfare Suites (AIDEWS), which enables a plan to fend off an attack and take countermeasures in case there is one.
It will also have missile defense systems called Large Aircraft Infrared Countermeasures (LAIRCM) and Self-Protection Suites (SPS).
What is SPS and LAIRCM?
The SPS can effectively jam enemy radar frequencies and divert heat-seeking missiles.
LAIRCM is used for protecting large aircraft from man-portable missiles. This system increases the crew-warning time, decreases false alarm rates, and automatically counters advanced intermediate-range missile systems, according to the Federation of American Scientists.
The counter-measures subsystem will use lasers mounted in pointer-tracker turret assemblies.
LAIRCM automatically counters advanced intermediate-range missile systems
LAIRCM also automatically counters advanced intermediate-range missile systems without the requirement of any action from the crew, the FAS report stated. The pilot will simply be informed that a threat missile was detected and jammed.
How much does it cost?
The total cost of purchase and retrofitting the two planes is around Rs. 8,400 crore ($1.1 billion), officials told PTI.
The missile defense system costs around $190 million.
Former junior Aviation Minister Jayant Sinha had earlier said in the Parliament that the cost of cabin reconfiguration was estimated at $132 million in 2018.
The cost of engines is expected to be $110 million.