Indian Navy took delivery of its ninth Boeing P-8I Poseidon maritime patrol aircraft, the company said in a statement on Nov. 18.
The ninth P-8I is the first aircraft to be delivered under an option contract, worth around $1 billion, for four additional aircraft that the Indian Ministry of Defence (MoD) placed in 2016. The delivery of the ninth aircraft will expand the Navy’s long-range maritime reconnaissance anti-submarine warfare (ASW) capabilities.
The Indian Navy was the first and is the largest international customer for the P-8 and recently completed seven years of operating the fleet. The patrol aircraft is an integral part of the Indian Navy’s fleet and has surpassed 25,000 flight hours since it was inducted in 2013. In addition to P-8Is primary mission of long-range maritime reconnaissance and ASW operations, the aircraft have been also 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 supports India’s growing P-8I fleet by providing training of Indian Navy flight crews, spares, ground support equipment and field service representative support. Boeing’s integrated logistics support has enabled the highest state of fleet readiness at the lowest possible cost.
Boeing is currently completing construction of the Training Support & Data Handling Centre at INS Rajali, Arakkonam, Tamil Nadu, and a secondary center at the Naval Institute of Aeronautical Technology, Kochi, as part of a training and support package contract signed in 2019. The indigenous, ground-based training will allow the Indian Navy crew to increase mission proficiency in a shorter time while reducing the on-aircraft training time resulting in increased aircraft availability for mission tasking.
India acquired the first eight P-8I aircraft on Jan. 1, 2009 under a $2.1 billion contract with Boeing becoming the type’s first international customer. India is also seeking to acquire ten P-8Is, worth around Rs. 22,500 crores ($3.2 billion), in addition to the 8+1 it operates and the other three on order.
The P-8I is an India-specific variant of U.S. Navy’s P-8A Poseidon maritime patrol aircraft. Indian Navy acquired the aircraft to replace its Tupolev Tu-142M maritime surveillance turboprop aircraft, which are now decommissioned.
The P-8I features two major components not fitted on the P-8A, a Telephonics APS-143 OceanEye aft radar and a magnetic anomaly detector (MAD). It also features Bharat Electronics Limited (BEL)-developed Data Link II and Identification Friend or Foe (IFF) systems. Data Link II allows the P-8I to exchange tactical data between Indian Navy aircraft, ships and shore establishments.
Indian Navy P-8Is are armed with AGM-84L Harpoon Block II anti-ship missiles and Mk 54 All-Up-Round Lightweight torpedoes. They are capable of broad-area, maritime and littoral operations, and can conduct anti-submarine warfare (ASW), anti-surface warfare (ASuW), and intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance (ISR) missions.
Boeing is building the P-8I at its production facility in Renton, Wash. The 737 fuselages are built by Spirit AeroSystems in Wichita, Kan., and then sent to Renton where all aircraft structural features unique to the P-8 are incorporated in sequence during fabrication and assembly. Aircraft quality and performance acceptance flight testing are conducted from Boeing Field in Seattle.
P-8 is a military derivative of Boeing’s Next-Generation 737-800ERX (737NG) commercial airliner and was originally developed for the U.S. Navy to replace its aging P-3 Orion maritime patrol aircraft fleet.
Other than the Indian and U.S navies, the aircraft is operated/ordered by Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF), UK Royal Air Force (RAF), Royal Norwegian Air Force (RNoAF), Royal New Zealand Air Force (RNZAF), and Republic of Korea Navy (ROKN).