Chennai, Nov 12 (IANS) The Indian Navy’s air power will be beefed up with the induction of P8i long-range maritime patrol aircraft, the defence ministry said on Thursday.
Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar will formally dedicate the P8i aircraft to the nation at a special function to be held at INS Rajali, premier naval air station at Arakonam in Tamil Nadu, a statement said.
The P8i aircraft is a variant of P8A Poseidon aircraft from Boeing as a replacement for the US Navy’s ageing P-3 fleet.
Indian Navy in 2009 became the first international customer for the aircraft signing $2 billion worth contract to acquire eight aircraft.
According to the statement, the last of the eight aircraft was accepted by India last month and all the plances have undergone thorough testing and trials, including successful firing of the first air launched Harpoon Block II missile in the world.
The P8i 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 induction of all eight aircraft has reinforced the long-range maritime reconnaissance and air anti-submarine warfare capability of the Indian Navy.
It will also provide enhanced maritime surface and sub-surface surveillance in the entire Indian Ocean Region.
The aircraft was deployed by the Indian Navy from Malaysia and Port Blair as India’s flag bearer during the search for missing Malaysian Airlines MH 370 in March 2015.
The aircraft would be placed under the Indian Navy’s Eastern Naval Command, based at INS Rajali and operated by Indian Naval Air Squadron 312A under the command of Commander Venkateshwaran Ranganathan.