Prime Minister Narendra Modi today reached Dhaka, Bangladesh on his first international trip post the lockdown. He reached the capital of Bangladesh in the newly inducted Boeing 777 VVIP aircraft with callsign Air India One. The custom-made Boeing B777 were inducted last year to replace the ageing 747 used to fly the President of India, Vice President and the Prime Minister on international state visits. The aircraft will be specially retrofitted with the latest self-defence protection suite for VVIP transport duties. Here’s all you need to know about the new aircraft:
– The aircraft was originally owned by Air India, and has been handed over to the Indian Air Force (IAF), which will use it to ferry the Prime Minister, the President and the Vice President.
– The new aircraft has a call sign ‘Air India One’. These are a duo of identical aircrafts that have been modified have cost approximately Rs 8,400 crore.
– The B777 planes will have state-of-the-art missile defence systems called Large Aircraft Infrared Countermeasures (LAIRCM) and Self-Protection Suites (SPS).
– In terms of livery, the aircraft dons the national emblem and the name ‘India’ and ‘Bharat’ written in both Hindi and English on either sides of the aircraft, while the national flag is present on the tail wing.
– The aircraft is operated by pilots of the Indian Air Force and not of Air India. However, the new wide-body planes will be maintained by Air India Engineering Services Limited (AIESL), which is a subsidiary of the Indian national carrier.
– The planes can reportedly fly between India and the US in one go without having to stop for refuelling.
– The Air India One planes have similar security measures as the Air Force One planes used by the US President.
– Similar to the Air Force One, the Air India One aircraft also has Self-Protection Suites and a massive office space with conference cabins.
– In February 2020, the US agreed to sell the two defence systems to India at a cost of $190 million. These planes are equipped with advance communication system.
– The aircraft was scheduled to arrive in India in July 2020. However, due to the coronavirus pandemic, the handing over of the retro-fitted aircraft was delayed. It had initially served in the fleet of Air India in 2018 before being flown back to a Boeing facility in San Antonio, Texas, where it was fitted with the latest air defence protection technology.