Seag­ull squadron gets its first P-8I

SP's MAI - - SP’S EXCLUSIVES -

The In­dian Navy has proudly wel­comed its new­est beast: a gleam­ing Boe­ing P-8I (un­of­fi­cially des­ig­nated Nep­tune, but yet to re­ceive its of­fi­cial In­dian name), the first of eight air­craft that will be the front­line of the Navy’s eyes in the sky over wa­ter, in all weather day or night for ex­tended mis­sions. The In­dian Navy is also con­sid­er­ing ex­er­cis­ing op­tions for four more air­craft (Boe­ing it­self has de­ter­mined a mar­ket for at least 30 air­craft go­ing by the Navy’s re­quire­ments).

Based out of a squadron at INS Ra­jali in Arakkonam, Tamil Nadu, the brand new air­craft, bear­ing the squadron’s Seag­ull in­signia, will be bro­ken into op­er­a­tions next month. It will be joined by the next two air­craft this year, fol­lowed by the re­main­ing five spread across 2014-15. That the P-8I was handed over to the Navy ahead of sched­ule has brought in a much needed feel-good fac­tor, and its only aus­pi­cious that the plat­form was de­liv­ered as the Navy just com­pleted cel­e­bra­tions of Naval Avi­a­tions’s 60th year.

A team from Boe­ing will be sta­tioned at Arakkonam, as per con­trac­tual re­quire­ments, to over­see the set­ting up of in­fra­struc­ture and be­gin op­er­a­tional­i­sa­tion of the plat­form with the In­dian Navy.

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