Boeing has delivered the 12th P-8I maritime patrol aircraft to the Indian Navy on Wednesday, February 23. “This is the fourth of four additional aircraft delivered under the options contract signed by the Ministry of Defence in 2016,” informed Boeing in its official statement.
The P-8I aircraft is a variant of the P-8A Poseidon aircraft that Boeing developed as a replacement for the US Navy’s ageing P-3 fleet. In May 2021, the US State Department approved the proposed sale of six P-8I patrol aircraft and related equipment, a deal estimated to cost 2.42 billion dollars.
In November 2019, the Defence Acquisition Council, chaired by Defence Minister Rajnath Singh, approved the procurement of the long-range maritime surveillance aircraft manufactured by Boeing.
Indian Navy became the first international customer for the P-8 aircraft with the conclusion of the nearly USD 2.1 billion contracts on January 1, 2009, for a total of eight aircraft. The first aircraft arrived in India on May 15, 2013. The order for four more aircraft was placed in 2016.
Ministry of Defence informed that the P-8I aircraft is equipped for long-range anti-submarine warfare, anti-surface warfare, intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance in support of the broad area, maritime and littoral operations.
Its communication and sensor suite includes indigenous equipment developed by defence PSUs and private manufacturers. With its high speed and high endurance of about 10 hours, the aircraft is capable of thrusting a punitive response and maintaining a watch over India’s immediate and extended areas of interest.
The P-8I has a maximum takeoff gross weight of 85,139 kg, a maximum ceiling of a little over 40,000 feet, and can carry a crew of nine. With 12 P8Is in its fleet, the Indian Navy also has the support of Boeing Defence India (BDI), Boeing’s local entity in India, to offer services such as training the flight crew and providing spare parts and ground support.
Boeing Defence India, Boeing’s local entity, supports the Indian Armed Forces and is providing training to Indian Navy flight crews along with spare parts, ground support equipment and service support.
The P-8I aircraft replaced the ageing Soviet-era Tupolev Tu-142s and will form the mainstay of ISR missions, patrolling, coastline defence along the west coast after the IL 38SD aircraft are decommissioned.
Earlier, in January, the Indian Navy decommissioned its first IL 38SD aircraft after the completion of 44 years of service. The IL-38 was inducted in 1977.
The first eight of these aircraft, INAS 312 are stationed at INS Rajali in Arakkonam, Tamil Nadu, on the eastern coast. The aircraft was also used in eastern Ladakh in 2020 and 2021, when the standoff with China was at its peak, to keep an eye on Chinese troops, armoured regiments and their movements.
The highly versatile airplane offers excellent maritime surveillance and reconnaissance and anti-submarine warfare capabilities and can assist during disaster relief and humanitarian missions.