The Indian Navy’s ability to spot potential adversaries has been enhanced as it took delivery of its ninth Boeing P-8I Poseidon maritime patrol aircraft. It will help expand the Navy's long-range maritime reconnaissance anti-submarine warfare (ASW) capabilities.
The Indian Navy was the first and is now the largest international customer of the P-8 and recently completed seven years of operating the fleet of patrol planes. The latest aircraft is the first to be delivered under an option contract, worth around $1 billion for four additional patrol planes that were ordered by the Indian Ministry of Defence in 2016.
In addition to ASW and maritime reconnaissance, the P-8I can be deployed to assist during disaster relief and humanitarian missions.
“Our focus has been, and will be, on delivering the world's best maritime patrol aircraft to the Indian Navy,” said Surendra Ahuja, managing director of Boeing Defence India. “The P-8I, with its exceptional maritime surveillance and reconnaissance capabilities, versatility and operational readiness, has proven to be an important asset to the Indian Navy. We remain committed to supporting the modernization and mission readiness of India's defence forces.”
Boeing has supported India's growing P-8I fleet by providing training of Indian Navy flight crews, spare parts, ground support equipment and field service representative support. According to the international defense contractor, its integrated logistics support has further provided the highest state of fleet readiness at the lowest possible cost.
The company has also been completing construction of its Training Support & Data Handling Centre at INS Rajali, Arakkonam, Tamil Nadu, as well as a secondary center at the Naval Institute of Aeronautical Technology, Kochi, as part of a training and support package contract signed in 2019. This indigenous, ground-based training was developed to allow the Indian Navy crew to increase mission proficiency in a shorter time while also reducing the on-aircraft training time resulting in increased aircraft availability for mission tasking.
The P-8I is the Indian variant of the P-8A Poseidon, which was designed for long-range ASW, as well as anti-surface warfare, and intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance missions. It can also be employed in other critical missions including search-and-rescue and anti-piracy, and also used to support other arms of the military.
The multi-mission aircraft is fitted with a combination of state of the art sensors and advanced weapons systems. The export version was specifically developed for the Indian Navy, and it features two components not fitted on the P-8A including a Telephonics APS-143 OceanEye aft radar and a magnetic anomaly detector. The wings are fitted with hardpoints and can carry air-to-surface missiles. In its ASW role it can employ AGM-84L Harpoon Block II missiles and Mk 54 All-Up-Round Lightweight torpedoes.
The Indian P-8I has surpassed 25,000 flight-hours and has provided India's maritime forces with a significant edge in the strategically important Indian Ocean region. It is currently the second largest fleet of P-8 aircraft in the world. The aircraft is powered by two CFM56-7 engines and each provides 27,300 pounds of thrust. The P-8I is 39.47 meters in length, has a wingspan of 37.64 meets and is 12.83 meters in height. It has a maximum speed of 490 knots (789 km/h), a range of 1,200 nautical miles and a ceiling of 12,496 meters. The P-8I has a crew of nine.
The P-8I was employed in the search of the missing Malaysian Airlines flight MH370 in 2014, highlighting its ability to conduct search-and-rescue operations.
Peter Suciu is a Michigan-based writer who has contributed to more than four dozen magazines, newspapers and websites. He is the author of several books on military headgear including A Gallery of Military Headdress, which is available on Amazon.com.