The Indian Navy received its 12th P-8I maritime patrol aircraft from Boeing on February 19th. A surveillance and reconnaissance version of the 737 type, the plane comes fitted with a highly advanced weapon system. It is also designed for low-altitude operations, supporting humanitarian and search & rescue missions.
Boeing delivered the last of the four additional P-8I aircraft to the Indian Navy a few days ago. The plane landed at the naval air station INS Hansa in Goa. Surendra Ahuja, managing director, Boeing Defence India, and a former rear admiral and navy test pilot, commented.
India placed an order for eight of these airplanes in 2009 with the option of buying four more later. The aircraft, which landed on the 19th, is the last of the additional four. The P-8 aircraft has two variants: the P-8A Poseidon flown by the US and some other countries and the P-8I for the Indian Navy. India became the first international customer of the P-8 in 2013, and since then, several other militaries, including the United Kingdom’s Royal Air Force, Royal Australian Air Force, and Royal Norwegian Air Force, have ordered the airplane.
The P-8I has a maximum takeoff gross weight of 85,139 kg (187,699 lbs), a maximum ceiling of a little over 40,000 feet, and can carry a crew of nine. With 12 P8Is in its fleet, the Indian Navy also has the support of Boeing Defence India (BDI), Boeing’s local entity in India, to offer services such as training the flight crew and providing spare parts and ground support.
As part of a training-and-support package contract signed in 2019, Boeing is constructing a Training Support & Data Handling Centre at INS Rajali in Tamil Nadu and a secondary center at the Naval Institute of Aeronautical Technology, Kochi. The P-8I comes fitted with state-of-the-art components such as the radar fingerprinting system, speech secrecy system, mobile satcom system, and wire harnesses. Since entering the Indian Navy’s fleet in 2013, these airplanes have flown more than 35,000 hours.
While the P-8I is primarily used by the Indian Navy for maritime operations, in 2020 and 2021, it was also deployed in Ladakh in North India during a standoff with China. These airplanes will also eventually replace some of the older reconnaissance aircraft, such as the IL 38SD, the first of which was decommissioned by the Indian Navy last month after an impressive 44 years in service.