FEATURED | Indian Navy Inducted First Batch of Boeing P-8I Neptune
IndraStra Global

FEATURED | Indian Navy Inducted First Batch of Boeing P-8I Neptune

By IndraStra Global Editorial Team

On November 13, India’s Union Minister of Defense Manohar Parrikar officially inducted the Indian Navy’s first squadron of Boeing P-8I Neptune (an Indian variant of P-8I Poseidon) aircraft at INS Rajali / Arakkoram Naval Air Station in Southern India,70 kilometers off Chennai.

FEATURED | Indian Navy Inducted First Batch of Boeing P-8I Neptune

Image Attribute: Indian Navy Boeing P-8I Neptune taking off from Boeing Field, Seattle, WA. / Source: Wikimedia Commons

According to Navy press release, Mr. Parrikar flew in to naval base on board a P-8I Neptune aircraft from Port Blair, prior to attending the official induction ceremony. “During the flight, Shri Parrikar was given an exposure to various sensors and other sophisticated state-of-the-art equipment and their capabilities,” the press statement reads.

Describing the aircraft as one of the best in the world for surveillance, Parrikar said "the aircraft will provide the Indian Navy with the necessary reach and flexibility to undertake extensive surveillance as also to respond swiftly and effectively to contingencies in our areas of interest.",  the new aircraft is expected to complement the navy's air based anti-submarine warfare capabilities. 

The new unit raised and designated as Indian Naval Air Squadron 312, which will be permanently based at INS Rajali / Arakkoram Naval Air Station, under the command of Commander Venkateshwaran Ranganathan.

About The Aircraft:

FEATURED | Indian Navy Inducted First Batch of Boeing P-8I Neptune
Image Attributes: Official Boeing Presentation Slide / Source: Boeing

The P-8I is a long-range anti-submarine warfare, anti-surface warfare, intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance aircraft capable of broad-area, maritime and littoral operations. The P-8I is a variant of the P-8A Poseidon that Boeing is developing for the U.S. Navy.

This military derivative of the Next-Generation 737-800 combines superior performance and reliability with an advanced mission system that ensures maximum interoperability in the future battle space.

The Indian Navy is the first international customer for the P-8. Boeing signed a $1.2 billion contract on Jan. 1, 2009, to deliver eight long-range maritime reconnaissance and anti-submarine warfare aircraft in turn to replace the Indian Navy's aging Tupolev Tu-142M maritime surveillance turboprops. Boeing has delivered four P-8I aircraft to the Indian Navy and will  be delivering the remaining four by 2015.India's immediate need is for eight aircraft, but Boeing believes there is long-term potential for additional aircraft sales

Video Attribute: Weapons Testing From Indian Navy's Boeing P-8I Maritime Surveillance Aircraft / Source: YouTube

Boeing was awarded a $3.89 billion contract for the system development and demonstration (SDD) phase of the P-8A Poseidon for the U.S. Navy on June 14, 2004. SDD activities include developing and integrating all the necessary software and  on-board mission systems and developing training systems. The P-8I is the first international model of the P-8A. Boeing built the P-8I at its production facility in Renton, Washington. The 737 fuselage was built by Spirit AeroSystems in Wichita, Kansas and then sent to Renton where all aircraft structural features unique to the P-8 were incorporated in sequence during fabrication and assembly. Aircraft quality and performance acceptance flight testing were conducted from Boeing Field in Seattle.

P-8I features two major components not fitted on the P-8A, a Telephonics APS-143 OceanEye aft radar and a magnetic anomaly detector (MAD). The Bharat Electronics Limited (BEL) Data Link II communications allows the P-8I to exchange tactical data between Indian Navy aircraft, ships and shore establishments. The P-8I features an integrated BEL-developed IFF system

India has also additionally purchased AGM-84L Harpoon Block II Missiles and Mk 54 All-Up-Round Lightweight Torpedoes for the P-8I. In July 2012, Boeing began flight testing of the P-8I. On 19 December 2012, the first P-8I was handed over to an Indian naval team at Boeing's Seattle facility. The Indian Navy inducted its first P-8I on 15 May 2013  The second and third P-8Is were received on 16 and 22 November 2013 respectively. The aircraft are based at INS Rajali, in Tamil Nadu. In 2014, several Indian Navy P-8Is conducted search operations for the missing Malaysia Airlines Flight 370.The fourth, fifth and sixth aircraft was delivered in May, September and November 2014 respectively.

General Characteristics of the P-8I Neptune System:

Propulsion:      Two CFM56-7 engines providing 27,300 pounds thrust each
Length:            39.47 meters
Wing Span:      37.64 meters
Height:            12.83 meters
Maximum Takeoff Gross Weight:      85,139 kilograms
Speed: 490 knots (789 km/h)
Range: 1,200+ nautical miles, with 4 hours on station (2,222 kilometers)
Altitude Ceiling:     12,496 meters
Crew:   9


P-8I Neptune is indeed a serious deal for Indian Navy. Based upon Poseidon’s open systems architecture which will eventually allow it to prepare for the future in the present. In the long run, Poseidon system is important because Navy will be able to pace the threat though the aircraft’s systems as “not quite plug and play, but almost.” As new threats emerge, solutions to meet them can roll into the requirements process and be implemented in the following development increments. Secondly, the P-8I is hardly a ‘short’ range aircraft , derived from a 737, a medium range civilian airliner. Neither the Indian or US Navy variant is fitted with a refueling probe. All three have a boom receptacle. So, range extension to cater the vastness of Indian Ocean would play a critical part in Indian Navy's Maritime Domain Awareness role.  The P-8I, for sure will immediately fill the gaps to be left by the Tu-142M as the Indian Navy retires these airplanes in near future. However, the question lies with scalability of the system in the longer run.