To be spread over 22 months, the Indian Navy gets ready to receive the first of the four P-8I long-range maritime reconnaissance Anti-Submarine Warfare aircraft in May. These aircraft are the world’s best for surveillance with state-of-the-art equipment and capabilities. These aircraft are presently providing the Indian Navy reach and flexibility in undertaking extensive surveillance.

The aircraft which are coming through the Foreign Military Sales (FMS) route is part of the follow on order the Indian Navy had placed and the delivery of the four aircraft will be finished by January 2022.

A senior naval officer told Financial Express Online “The aircraft which is arriving this summer will be heading towards Goa and the others will be spread across all bases including Port Blair and/or Vizag by 2022.”

As has been reported earlier by the Financial Express Online, through a $ 2.2 billion deal which was signed in 2009, the Indian Navy has already received and inducted eight of these aircraft.  According to the agreement between the two sides, there was a provision for a follow-on order. This was exercised in 2016 when the Indian Navy ordered four P-8I worth around $ one billion.

In line with the foundational agreement Communications Compatibility and Security Agreement (COMCASA) India has concluded with the US in 2018, there are plans to install encrypted communication systems on the earlier ones.

What does the US-based Boeing Company say?

According to the company the Indian Navy is presently operating a fleet of eight P-8Is with four more on order.  Under the contract signed, the first of the four aircraft of the follow on order will be delivered in mid-2020.

Since their induction in 2015, the eight aircraft has surpassed close to 25,000 flight hours and demonstrated an excellent record in supporting the missions they have been deployed for.

Where are the eight P-8i aircraft located?

These are located at based at Arakkonam in Tamil Nadu and are part of the 312A Naval Air Squadron.

India is looking for more

Last winter the Defence Acquisition Council had given its approval for the buying of six additional P-8I aircraft.  The deal was expected to be concluded during the recent visit of the US President Donald Trump, however, is now expected to be closed at a later date. These six whenever they come will be fitted with the encrypted systems.

These aircraft have been customised for the Indian Navy and comes with unique features and also have onboard made in India sub-systems and these have been tailored to meet India’s maritime patrol requirements.

According to the US-based Boeing Company, the aircraft is the military derivative of the Next-Generation 737-800 – and it is a combination of superior performance. There is an advanced mission system to help in ensuring maximum interoperability in the future battlespace.

First international customer

When it signed the contract in 2009, the Indian Navy became the first international customer for this long-range maritime reconnaissance and anti-submarine warfare aircraft.