As per an official statement on Monday, the 11th anti-submarine warfare aircraft P-8I was received by the Indian Navy from Boeing which is a US-based aerospace company.
For keeping a close check on the Chinese movements in the Indian Ocean Region (IOR) especially on submarines, a total of 22 of these aircraft have been planned to be purchased by the Indian Navy in the next few years as per reports.
Earlier uses of the aircraft
With regards to the P-81s, India is already in possession of 10 of these aircraft which are in service with the Indian Navy who are the largest foreign customer of the P8 platform. Although 10 aircraft are currently in service, one more is to be delivered this year while six more are being procured.
Back in 2009, a contract for eight P-81 aircraft was signed by the Defence Ministry followed by another contract signed in 2016 for four additional P-8Is.
Amid the ongoing standoff in eastern Ladakh, these aircraft were used by the Indian Army to track Chinese deployments along the Line of Actual Control (LAC) and the Indian Navy P8s were seen flying in the same direction twice.
In 2013, the aircraft was inducted and became an integral part of the Indian Navy. Since the time of its induction, it has surpassed 30,000 flight hours as per official records.
The ninth P-8I aircraft was received by the Indian Navy in the previous year while its 10th aircraft was received in July this year.
All about P-8I
The aircraft is an American maritime patrol aircraft which is developed and manufactured by Boeing Defense, Space and Security. The P-8I is a customized export variant of the P-8A featuring equipment specified for the Indian Navy.
Armed with torpedoes, Harpoon anti-ship missiles along with other weapons, the P-8 operates in anti-surface warfare, shipping interdiction roles and anti-submarine warfare as well.
The P-8A is modified to include two weapons stations on each wing and can carry 129 sonobuoys. An in-flight refuelling system has also been fitted in the aircraft. Several anti-submarine and anti-surface warfare, intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance, humanitarian, and search and rescue missions are performed by the aircraft variants P-8A Poseidon and the P-8I.
The aircraft is capable of dropping and monitoring sonobuoys while it can also operate in conjunction with other assets including Northrop Grumman MQ-4C Triton maritime surveillance UAV.
Due to higher operational altitude, there is an absence of the magnetic anomaly detector (MAD) which is equipped in India’s P-8I as per contract request. It is believed that the acoustic sensor system in the P-8 is more effective at acoustic tracking and hence the absence of a MAD does not impede its detection capabilities.
The construction is currently being completed on the Training Support & Data Handling (TSDH) Centre at INS Rajali, Arakkonam, in Tamil Nadu along with another centre at the Naval Institute of Aeronautical Technology, Kochi, as part of a training-and-support package contract which was signed back in 2019.
Increasing the mission proficiency of the Indian Navy crew, The indigenous ground-based training will result in increased aircraft availability for mission tasking by reducing the on-aircraft training time.