AGM-84K SLAM-ER missile on a P-8A Poseidon at Naval Air Station Jacksonville in Florida

Armed with just lightweight air-launched Mk 54 torpedoes and Harpoon Block II anti-ship missiles, India’s P-8I long-range maritime reconnaissance aircraft fleet being built and integrated by Boeing in future will get major offensive firepower as it plans to get an air-launched variant of Long-Range Land Attack Cruise Missile (LRLACM) developed by India based on India’s first home-grown subsonic cruise missile, Nirbhay, integrated into the platform if it gets clearance after conducting feasibility studies.

Aeronautical Development Establishment (ADE) is developing an air-launched variant of LRLACM with sea-skimming capabilities both for the Air force and Navy. LRLACM with a range of over 1000 km has been planned for both Air force and Naval Aircrafts. Indian Navy will be getting four additional P-8I long-range maritime reconnaissance aircraft in May and has been cleared to procure Six more at a later stage which will take the total fleet to 18.

P-8I is equipped with radar, optical and sonar sensors, and it is armed with anti-ship missiles and torpedoes. It’s designed to patrol the oceans to detect and attack threats including hostile submarines capable of firing off nuclear missiles. P-8I can carry 126 sonobuoys internally, four Boeing AGM-84 Harpoon anti-ship missiles on hard points beneath its wing and Mk 54 lightweight hybrid torpedoes within an internal bomb bay.

Internal weapons bay located at the rear of the P-8I are capable of accommodating Mk-54 torpedoes, Mark 82 depth charges for ASW operations, Mines, Sonar buoys and Survival Gear and are not designed to carry long-range cruise missiles like LRLACM. Since P-8I is constructed from a 737-800 commercial airliner’s air frame, so it is also not possible to slung under the belly a cruise missile due to lower ground clearance space.

P-8I has four under wing hard-points for AGM-84D Harpoon and, likely, the existing wing hard points will likely be used to carry LRLACM in future which will require some feasibility studies which will come in handy from studies done by the Boeing which is has been made in charge of similar program for the P-8A Poseidon under commands of US Naval Air Systems Command (NAVAIR) to arm them with Long Range Anti-Ship Missiles or American origins.

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