Another P8i from Boeing lands in Goa! Will boost Indian Navy’s Maritime Reconnaissance Capabilities

This is the second aircraft which has been delivered under an option contract for four additional aircraft that the Ministry of Defence had awarded to the Company in 2016.

The P8i is specific to the Indian Navy requirement.

On Tuesday, US based Boeing Company delivered the 10th P8i long-range maritime reconnaissance aircraft with anti-submarine warfare capabilities. This is the second aircraft which has been delivered under an option contract for four additional aircraft that the Ministry of Defence had awarded to the Company in 2016. As has been reported earlier, when the company was awarded the initial contract, Indian Navy became its first international customer for P-8 and today it is operating the largest non-US fleet.

The tenth P8-I has already landed at INS Hansa, Goa. In November 2020, the Indian Navy had received the ninth P8I from the US based aerospace company. These aircraft are part of the 312A Naval Air Squadron and are based at Arakkonam, Tamil Nadu. The P8i is specific to the Indian Navy requirement.

Which other countries have P-8 in their fleet?

Besides the US Navy which operates P-8, other countries including the United Kingdom’s Royal Air Force and Royal Australian Air Force fly these.

Importance for India

With one more in its fleet the Indian Navy’s surveillance, reconnaissance, and electronic jamming capabilities are going to get further boost in the Indian Ocean Region (IOR).

Two more are expected later this year.

Any change in the configuration?

No. according to sources, there is no change in the configuration of the aircraft that arrived in India today afternoon. The configurations are the same as they are all from the same batch. There are plans to incorporate changes in the configuration like the encrypted communications.

Why is it important?

India and the US have already inked the Communications Compatibility and Security Agreement (COMCASA). This will help in achieving interoperability, especially in the defence equipment and platforms which have been supplied by the US. This will help when the Indian Navy goes for very complex bilateral or multilateral drills with the countries and the QUAD which have the same platforms – whether in air, land, sea or underwater.

The Indian Navy is in the process of receiving its first MH-60R Helicopters from the US as well as a process is underway for finalizing the deal for Sea Guardian drones from another US company. All these assets will then be in sync with the encrypted communications system on board.

Indian Navy operates the P8i and the US Navy flies P8A Poseidon aircraft and now during drills the two can share real time operational intelligence, this also includes a secure Common Tactical Picture.

When was the contract inked for the P8i?

In 2009, a contract for eight aircraft was inked between India and the US Boeing Company for USD 2.1 billion, these aircraft are coming through the Foreign Military sales route (FMS) Later in 2016, the Ministry of Defence placed a follow on order for four more P8i. The Defence Acquisition Council has also given approval for more of these aircraft.

What is onboard the P8i for the Indian Navy?

These aircraft have come to the Indian Navy equipped with the state of the art anti-submarine warfare (ASW) Technology.

Also, has on board Telephonics APS-143. The original P-8A Poseidon in the fleet of the USN does not have this.

There is OceanEye Aft Radar System; Magnetic anomaly detector.

The Weapons System includes Harpoon Block-II missiles and MK-54 lightweight torpedoes.

And, all the aircraft in the Indian fleet are data-linked with Indian submarines, thus giving them the capability of sharing critical information about the enemy vessels easily.

It can also carry 129 sonobuoys. These help in locating the enemy submarines and according to naval officers can be used for launching anti-ship missiles.

Chinese presence in IOR and South China Sea

Though these aircraft were ordered much before the ongoing standoff between the Indian Army and the Chinese troops along the Line of Actual Control (LAC), the P8i has been helping the Indian Navy in keeping a tight watch on the Chinese movement in the waters.

According to reports, China has already managed to acquire a string of ports in the region which includes –Pakistan (Gwadar port), Myanmar (Kyaukpyu port), Sri Lanka (Hambantota Port), and Iran (Port of Jask).

Boeing in India & P8i

According to an official statement issued on the arrival of the tenth P8i, the US based aerospace company says the “patrol aircraft is an integral part of the Indian Navy’s fleet and since its induction in 2013 has since then crossed 30,000 flight hours.”

Besides the maritime reconnaissance and anti-submarine warfare capabilities, the P8I have played a very important role during humanitarian missions and also in disaster relief.

The US Company under the contract is providing training of Indian Navy flight crews of P8i, spare parts, field service representative support and ground support equipment. And, “This integrated logistics support has enabled a high state of fleet readiness and this is possible due to the lowest cost,” it adds.

The company is in the process of completing the construction of the Training Support & Data Handling Centre at INS Rajali, Arakkonam, Tamil Nadu. Also work is in progress on the secondary maintenance training centre at Naval Institute of Aeronautical Technology, Kochi, Kerala. This is part of a training and support package contract signed in 2019. According to Boeing, “This new indigenous, ground-based training will allow Indian Navy crew to extend mission proficiency and in a shorter time. It will help in reducing on-aircraft training time which results in increased aircraft availability.”

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