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The Indian Navy is currently exploring options to significantly expand the range of munitions that its P-8I Neptune maritime patrol aircraft can carry. This development signals the Navy’s intent to diversify the capabilities of these aircraft, enhancing their mission profiles beyond traditional roles such as anti-submarine warfare, anti-surface warfare, and search and rescue.

Studies are underway to potentially integrate various air-launched naval mines, precision-guided bombs, and the Miniature Air Launched Decoy (MALD) system, all of which are domestically produced in India. Boeing, the manufacturer of the P-8I Neptune, has offered its expertise to facilitate the adoption of a wider array of munitions and other equipment.

This expansion of capabilities could transform the P-8I Neptune into a versatile platform, capable of executing a broader spectrum of missions. It opens doors for the aircraft to serve as an “arsenal ship” of sorts, with enhanced readiness for diverse operational scenarios.

Currently, the P-8I Neptune’s armament options include the AGM-84D Harpoon anti-ship missile and the Mk 54 air-launched lightweight torpedo. India’s Defense Research and Development Organization (DRDO) is also working on augmenting these capabilities.

Furthermore, efforts are underway to develop advanced weaponry to replace the ageing Harpoon missile. BrahMos Aerospace, a leading organization in India, is actively engaged in the development of BrahMos-NG (Next-Generation) air-launched cruise missiles, offering enhanced standoff anti-surface warfare capabilities. DRDO is also working on the development of Sub-Sonic NASM–MR or Naval Anti-Ship Missile–Medium Range is an anti-ship missile that will be adopted on the P-8I Neptune.

This initiative by the Indian Navy showcases its commitment to modernizing and enhancing the capabilities of its maritime patrol aircraft. The ability to carry a broader array of munitions will undoubtedly bolster the effectiveness of the P-8I Neptune in safeguarding India’s maritime interests and responding to a wide range of threats in the Indian Ocean region.

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