The US aircraft major Boeing delivered the 10th long-range maritime reconnaissance anti-submarine warfare aircraft P8I to the Indian Navy. The aircraft has landed at INS Hansa, Goa. In November 2020, the Indian Navy had received the ninth P8I. These aircraft are part of the 312A Naval Air Squadron and are based at Arakkonam, Tamil Nadu.
The P8I is specific to the Indian Navy requirement that will boost the Navy’s maritime reconnaissance and surveillance capabilities in the Indian Ocean Region (IOR). The aircraft has been helping the Indian Navy in keeping a tight watch on the Chinese movement in the region.
The contract for eight aircraft was inked between India and the US Boeing Company for USD 2.2 billion in 2009 which are coming through the Foreign Military sales route (FMS). Later in 2016, the Ministry of Defence placed a follow on order for four more P8I worth over $1 billion. Two more are expected later this year.
The petrol aircraft is an integral part of the Indian Navy’s fleet and has surpassed 30,000 flight hours since its induction in 2013, Boeing said in a statement. The Navy has also deployed P8Is for humanitarian assistance and disaster relief missions.
As per Boeing’s statement, the company supports India’s growing P-8I fleet by providing training of Indian Navy flight crews, spare parts, ground support equipment and field service representative support. Boeing’s integrated logistics support has enabled a high state of fleet readiness at the lowest possible cost.
Boeing is currently completing construction on the Training Support and Data Handling Centre at INS Rajali, Arakkonam, Tamil Nadu and a secondary maintenance training center at the Naval Institute of Aeronautical Technology, Kochi, Kerala as part of a training and support package contract signed in 2019. This new indigenous, ground-based training will allow Indian Navy crew to increase mission proficiency in a shorter time while reducing on-aircraft training time resulting in increased aircraft availability, Boeing added.
The Defence Acquisition Council has also approved for more of these aircraft. In November 2019, the Defence Acquisition Council approved the procurement of six aircraft. Indian Navy is Boeing’s first international customer for P-8 that operates the largest non-US fleet.