Indian Navy To Get Additional P8I Submarine Hunter, Reconnaissance Aircraft In 2020

Prakhar Gupta

Nov 16, 2016, 12:42 PM | Updated 12:42 PM IST

P8I submarine killer, maritime reconnaissance aircraft. Picture Credit: Boeing
P8I submarine killer, maritime reconnaissance aircraft. Picture Credit: Boeing

India will start receiving the recently ordered P8I submarine killer, maritime reconnaissance aircraft starting July 2020, with work being initiated at the Boeing facility to deliver an updated version of the combat plane. The navy currently has eight P8Is in service and an additional four were ordered to augment its anti-submarine warfare (ASW) capabilities.

The P8 aircraft are in service with the US Navy, and Australia has got deliveries of its first aircraft last week with 11 more on order. In addition, the Royal Air Force of the UK has also placed an order for nine P8 aircraft.

The aircraft has been developed by Boeing Defense, Space & Security, modified from the 737-800ERX.

“We are looking forward to delivering the options by July 2020. We also have a long list of upgrades that the Indian Navy is interested in and we are working on that,” chief engineer of the P-8I programme, Mark Jordan, was quoted as saying by Livemint.

While officials at Boeing Defense did not share details of the upgrades being discussed, the Indian Navy is likely to go for a simultaneous upgrade of its existing fleet of eight aircraft to the latest standard.

At a time when China’s People’s Liberation Army Navy (PLAN) is projected to have over 70 conventional and non-conventional submarines in service, the presence of upgraded P8Is will help India in securing its area of primary interest, the Indian Ocean Region. Increasing Chinese interference in the region, including its effort to equip Pakistan with eight stealth attack submarines, has added to India’s discomfort.

The Indian Navy has been using its fleet of P8Is for missions ranging from patrolling and spotting passing submarines and ships to search missions in the Bay of Bengal and the Arabian Sea.

While the Indian Navy will operate 12 P8Is by 2022, Boeing is hopeful for more orders with a top executive saying that the Indian side has expressed its willingness to look at adding additional planes in the future, Economic Times reported.

Watch here, the first flight of Indian Navy’s P8I aircraft:

Prakhar Gupta is a senior editor at Swarajya. He tweets @prakharkgupta.

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