Jan 19, 2013
Indian Navy gets its most sophisticated system yet in P8-I maritime aircraft
The Boeing P8-I long-range maritime reconnaissance aircraft (LRMRA) which the Indian Navy got lat month is the most sophisticated weapon system in its inventory yet.
The aircraft, which is now being used for training by Indian naval personnel in coordination with the US Navy in the US, has the latest radars, electronic warfare systems, and weapons to kill hostile submarines, several of which lurk underwater in the Arabian Sea and Bay of Bengal around the Indian coast.
Built on the body of a civilian Boeing 737-800 jetliner with the wings of a 737-900, the P8-I is actually an attack aircraft, capable of discriminating between friendly and hostile vessels far away and then hit them with desired priority and lethality.
Its key capability though is to detect and delete hostile submarines, as also small boats in shallow waters which pose the most serious threat to Indian naval assets.
India has purchased eight P8-Is from the US Navy under the US government's Foreign Military Sales (FMS) programme and the government has cleared four more for which there was an option. Another 12 P8-Is, or similar aircraft, should be acquired later.
The $2.1 billion-plus deal for aircraft covers onboard offensive and defensive systems and training. Weapons like the Boeing Harpoon Block II missiles, sonobuoys, Raytheon's Mk 54 torpedoes, some freefall weapons cost additional.
The P8-I is a derivative of the US Navy's P8-A multi-mission maritime aircraft (MMA) developed at the cost of billions of dollars. The first P8-A was delivered to it in March 2012, and so far, it has received five of the 117 ordered aircraft.
The Indian Navy is the first foreign customer and not much apart in time.