EXCLUSIVE: Devil In The Details? Bogey In The Indian Navy's P-8I Aircraft Contract

The Indo-US contract for eight Boeing P-8I long-range maritime reconnaisance & anti-submarine warfare (LRMRASW) aircraft was signed at the beginning of this year, but, according to sources in the Navy, there appear to be some bogeys that seem to have passed the muster of South Block bureaucrats, certainly the ones who signed the deal. With such committed focus on the end user monitoring (EUM) clauses, sources point to a certain other clause in the contract that could spell potential trouble in the future, not just for the P-8I relationship, but others Indo-US contracts as well.

According to Section 6.1 under Article 28 of the contract between the two governments, the US will be liable for no penalties in the event that any "malicious code" is detected in the software that governs the P-8I's sensors and systems. Malicious code, among other things, could include deliberately embedded bits of software designed to do one or many of a variety of things, which could include encrypted recording of platform usage information -- data that only American inspectors will be able to decrypt during end-user inspections, without making it apparently so. Sound far-fetched. It apparently isn't. Anyway, the point is, if Indian engineers are lucky enough to detect the malicious software (in some fortuitous spasm of counter-intelligence), then as per the contract on paper, there will be no penalties. All the US will have to do is to modify the hardware or software and remove the malicious code, with no other liabilities.

There are folks who believe this is precisely what the US government has seen done in contracts with Pakistan's P-3 and F-16 fleet. Could something be amiss or is this paranoia? Has something far more dangerous passed under the radars of South Block?

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