Indian Navy takes delivery of its ninth Boeing P-8i naval surveillance aircraft

According to information published on November 18, 2020, the Indian Navy has received its ninth P-8i naval surveillance aircraft on Wednesday, November 18, 2020. The P-8i is the Indian version of the P-8A Poseidon Multimission Maritime Aircraft manufactured by Boeing.
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Russian Vyborg Shipyard laid the Purga ice class coastguard ship of project 23550 925 001 Multimission Maritime Aircraft P-8i of Indian navy. (Picture source Wikimedia)

The Indian Navy operates eight P-8I long-range maritime reconnaissance and anti-submarine warfare aircraft at INS Rajali. Boeing is also contracted to deliver four additional P-8I aircraft to the Indian Navy. Deliveries will begin in 2020. The first order by India for the P-8A Poseidon aircraft was signed in January 2000. In July 2016, India awarded Boeing a $1 billion contract for the purchase of four more P-8I maritime surveillance aircraft. India was the first international customer to buy P-8I aircraft from the United States.

The P-8A Poseidon is designed to perform long-range anti-submarine warfare (ASW), anti-surface warfare (ASuW), and intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance (ISR) missions. The P-8 delivers the highest levels of quality, reliability, and operability. A true multi-mission aircraft, it is defined by a unique combination of state of the art sensors, proven weapons systems, and a globally recognized platform.

The P-8s Indian variant is referred to as P-8I. The aircraft plays a crucial role in being the eyes of the Indian Navy and carrying out critical maritime operations. The aircraft has surpassed 25,000 flight-hours and gives India's maritime warriors a significant edge in the strategically important Indian Ocean region. Of a total of 12 ordered aircraft, India has received eight, making the Indian Navy's P-8 fleet the second largest in the world. Another four aircraft are on-schedule to be delivered in 2020.

The P-8I is not just responsible for coastal patrolling but is also used for other critical missions like search-and-rescue, anti-piracy, and supporting operations of other arms of the military.

The P-8A is based on the 737-800 and the wings of the 737-900. The internal weapons bay is installed beneath the forward section of the fuselage. The 737-900-style wings are built with hardpoints for carrying air-to-surface missiles. The P-8A has a crew of five operator stations (two naval flight officers plus three enlisted Aviation Warfare Operators/naval aircrewman).

The P-8i is fitted with the Bharat Electronics Limited (BEL) Data Link II communications allowing the P-8I to exchange tactical data between Indian Navy aircraft, ships, and shore establishments. It also features an integrated BEL-developed IFF system.[85] India has purchased AGM-84L Harpoon Block II missiles and Mk 54 All-Up-Round Lightweight torpedoes for the P-8I.