Boeing P-8I : Enhancement for the IN
Dedication ceremony at INS Rajali, home base of INAS 312A which took place in October 2015 even as celebrated.
Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar has dedicated the Boeing P-8I longrange maritime reconnaissance and anti submarine aircraft to the nation, at a special ceremony held at INS Rajali, Arakkonam, about 70 kilometres from Chennai in October 2015.
As per the release issued by the Ministry of Defence, “the P- 8I would boost the firepower and arsenal of the Indian Armed Forces. The P-8Is enhance India’s intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance capabilities and have been extensively deployed to assist during disaster relief and humanitarian missions for aerial reconnaissance and data gathering.”
The Indian Navy’s P-8I aircraft fleet has demonstrated an excellent record in supporting the missions they have been deployed for, with the Defence Minister and Navy leadership having expressed satisfaction about the operational readiness of the aircraft. This has been possible owing to the enhanced capabilities of the platform manufactured by Boeing and the focus on timely and affordable services and support.
The dedication ceremony at INS Rajali, home base of Indian Naval Air Squadron ( INAS) 312A under the command of Commander Venkateshwaran Ranganathan, which operates the Navy’s P-8I fleet ( see Vayu VI/2014), was held in presence of the Chief of Naval Staff Admiral RK Dhowan, Flag Officer Commanding-in-Chief Eastern Naval Command Vice Admiral Satish Soni, INAS 312A personnel and the Boeing team.
Minister Parrikar, who flew in to INS Rajali on board a Boeing P-8I from Port Blair, described the aircraft as “one of the best for maritime surveillance in the world today.” During the flight, Parrikar was briefed on the various sensors and other sophisticated state-of-the-art equipment and their capabilities. He said the aircraft would 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.
Mr. Parrikar 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. The Minister praised the efforts put in by INS Rajali and its personnel, taking note of 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 Malaysian Airlines Flight MH 370, the first successful firing of air launched Harpoon Block II missile in the world, torpedo firing
and active participation in major naval exercises ( see Exercise Malabar 2015 report in this issue).
Tom Bell, senior vice president, Global Sales & Marketing, Boeing Defense, Space & Security, commended the Indian Navy for its high standards of professionalism and said Boeing was proud to support the navy’s long range maritime surveillance and anti-submarine requirements.
“The Boeing teams have been committed to building, delivering and supporting this amazing aircraft for our important customer – the Indian Navy,” Bell said. “Over the last six years, we have learned together, grown together and cemented a foundation for a long term relationship that will last decades. To see this aircraft come to life at INS Rajali and perform the missions it was envisioned to do under the very able handling of the Indian Navy’s sailors and officers has been truly amazing. This is a tremendous achievement for the country.”
The P-8I aircraft is a variant of the P- 8A aircraft that Boeing developed as a replacement for the US Navy’s ageing P-3 fleet. Indian Navy became the first international customer for the P-8 aircraft with the conclusion of an approximately $ 2.1 billion contract in January 2009 for a total of eight aircraft. The first aircraft arrived in India on 15 May 2013 and as of date, all eight aircraft have been inducted into the Indian Navy and are fully integrated into its operations.
Dennis Swanson, vice president, Boeing Defense, Space & Security in India, explains that delivering on commitments to the Indian Navy has been one of Boeing’s top priorities in India. “The Navy is pleased with the performance of its P-8I fleet and has deployed its aircraft for several missions. This is testament to the hard work of Boeing teams and trust we have built with the customer by meeting their expectations. In 2016 we will continue to focus on delivering training, support and service to ensure the Indian Navy experiences high aircraft availability and mission readiness rates.”
The 2009 contract also included options for four additional aircraft. “We’re currently in discussion with the Indian Navy about their options for more P-8Is”, said Mark Jordan, P-8I programme manager. “The team has done a tremendous job providing those first eight aircraft and we’re looking forward to continuing our work together with the Indian Navy.”
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. The Defence Ministry spokesperson mentioned that the communication and sensor suite includes indigenous equipment developed by Indian defence companies. “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 statement said.
Indian Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar (seated) is briefed on the P-8I’s