Indian Navy’s Boeing P-8I – dedicated to the nation
Giving a boost to the firepower and arsenal of the Indian armed forces, Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar dedicated the Boeing P-8I (Poseidon Eight India) long-range maritime patrol aircraft to the nation on November 13, at an impressive ceremony held at INS Rajali, Arakkonam, India’s premiere Naval Air Station in southern India, about 70 km off Chennai.
The ceremony was attended by a host of dignitaries including the Chief of Naval Staff Admiral R.K. Dhowan, and Flag Officer Commanding-in-Chief Eastern Naval Command Vice Admiral Satish Soni.
Parrikar, who flew in to INS Rajali onboard a Boeing P-8I from Port Blair, described the aircraft as one of the best for surveillance in the world today. During the flight, Parrikar was given an exposure to various sensors and other sophisticated state-of-the-art equipment and their capabilities. He said the aircraft will provide the Indian Navy the necessary reach and flexibility to undertake extensive surveillance as also to respond swiftly and effectively to contingencies in our areas of interest.
Parrikar, in particular, complimented the Navy and its air arm for expeditiously inducting and operationalising this force multiplier, which would enable the nation’s armed forces to dominate the future battle space. Taking note of the spectacular efforts put in by INS Rajali and its personnel, Parrikar praised the fact that, even in the short phase of trials and testing, the P-8I aircraft had achieved a number of operational milestones which includes participation in the search effort for Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370, the first successful firing of air-launched Harpoon Block II missile in the world, torpedo firing and active participation in major naval exercises.
The P-8I aircraft is a variant of the P-8A Poseidon aircraft that Boeing developed as a replacement for the US Navy’s ageing P-3 fleet. The Indian Navy became the first international customer for the P-8 aircraft with the conclusion of the nearly $2.1 billion contract on January 1, 2009, for a total of eight aircraft. The first aircraft arrived in India on May 15, 2013, and as of date all eight aircraft have been inducted into the Indian Navy and are fully integrated into its operations.
The P-8I aircraft is equipped for long-range anti-submarine warfare, anti-surface warfare, intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance in support of broad area, maritime and littoral operations. Its communication and sensor suite includes indigenous equipment developed by defence PSUs and private manufacturers. With its high speed and high endurance of about 10 hours, the aircraft is capable of thrusting a punitive response and maintaining a watch over India’s immediate and extended areas of interest.
The aircraft are based at INS Rajali, and are operated by the Indian Naval Air Squadron 312A under the command of Commander Venkateshwaran Ranganathan.
Chief of the Naval Staff Admiral R.K. Dhowan presenting a memento to Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar at the induction ceremony of P-8I Boeing aircraft squadron at INS Rajali, Arakkonam, in Tamil Nadu