Amid Increasing Chinese Presence In Indian Ocean, India To Commission Second Squadron Of P-8I Submarine Hunting Aircraft

by Swarajya Staff - Mar 29, 2022 03:47 PM +05:30 IST
Amid Increasing Chinese Presence In Indian Ocean, India To Commission Second Squadron Of P-8I Submarine Hunting AircraftIndian Navy’s P-8I Maritime Patrol Aircraft (Boeing India /Twitter)
Snapshot
  • Twelve of these aircraft are already in service with the Indian Navy, with the latest one delivered in February this year.

    The Navy, reports say, plans to have a total of 22 of these aircraft in the next few years to keep an eye on Chinese movements in the Indian Ocean Region, most notably its submarines.

The Indian Navy will commission its second squadron of long-range maritime reconnaissance aircraft, P-8I, to add muscle to its surveillance capabilities in the Indian Ocean Region.

Also called submarine hunters, the new squadron will give a much-needed boost to the Indian Navy's ability to track down Chinese submarines in the region at a time when the deployments of the People's Liberation Army Navy in the Indian Ocean Region are on the rise.

The air squadron 316 will be commissioned at the INS Hansa, a naval air station near Dabolim in Goa, in the presence of Chief of Naval Staff R Hari Kumar, officials said on Monday (28 March).

The P-8I aircraft is powered by twin jet engines and can be equipped with air-to-ship missiles and torpedoes.

A P-8I aircraft of the Indian Navy. (Livefist/Twitter)
A P-8I aircraft of the Indian Navy. (Livefist/Twitter)

The Indian Navy is the largest foreign customer of the P8 platform.

Twelve of these aircraft are already in service with the Indian Navy, with the latest one delivered in February this year.

The Navy, reports say, plans to have a total of 22 of these aircraft in the next few years to keep an eye on Chinese movements in the Indian Ocean Region, most notably its submarines.

Apart from the Indian Navy and the US Navy, the aircraft is also used by the Royal Australian Air Force and the Royal Air Force.

India has also used the aircraft to track Chinese deployments along the Line of Actual Control amid the ongoing standoff in eastern Ladakh. Indian Navy P8s were seen flying towards Ladakh at least twice.

The Indian Army had successfully used the P-8I aircraft to monitor Chinese movements along the border during the 73-day-long Doklam standoff. As Captain D K Sharma (Retd), who was serving as the spokesperson and Public Relations Officers of the Indian Navy, revealed recently, “The aircraft were live-streaming data to support decision making during the Doklam face-off”.

The aircraft, this report says, was also put to use “to keep an eye on movement of Pakistani troops after the Pulwama terror attack last year”.

The P-8Is come equipped with the AN/APY-10 radar, which its maker Raytheon describes as a “maritime, littoral and overland surveillance radar”.

As it is clear from the description, the radar can be used to monitor ground movement, and is capable of providing data in all-weather conditions, both at night and day.

In the Synthetic Aperture and Inverse synthetic-aperture mode, the AN/APY-10 radar can penetrate through clouds and foliage to give detailed images of the surface below.

Images produced by the radar in these modes can give details such as the size of structures on the surface, movement and change.

Talking to Tyler Rogoway of TheWarZone, a pilot of Patrol Squadron Five, a maritime patrol squadron of the United States Navy, which is also known as the VP-5 the "Mad Foxes,” said: “ESM (electronic surveillance measures) is used to collect a wide range of emitters used by... land based facilities at extended ranges. It allows us to be able to geolocate emitters to find a foreign submarine, surface combatant, or land based surface-to-air site. It is also a passive system, which allows us to covertly monitor a wide area.”

“The EO/IR (electro-optical/infrared) camera can be used to visually identify both land and sea based targets, with the IR camera having both white hot and black hot images,” the pilot had told TheWarZone.

P8s can use these capabilities, and many others which remain classified, while flying in own airspace to draw a picture of the enemy’s dispositions on the ground.

In August 2021, a P-8I maritime patrol aircraft of the Indian Navy was spotted flying over the Philippines, close to the South China Sea, almost all of which is claimed by China.

The submarine-hunting aircraft was in the region to participate in the Malabar Exercise, featuring the navies of all four Quad countries.

With inputs from PTI

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