Indian Navy’s air power gets boost with P8i aircraft

Chennai, Nov 13 (IANS) Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar on Friday said the long range maritime patrol P8i aircraft will enable the Indian Navy to undertake extensive surveillance and swift action.

He was at INS Rajali in Arakonam, around 70 km from here, to dedicate the P8i aircraft to the nation.

Parrikar flew into INS Rajali, a premier naval air station, on board a P8i from Port Blair in the morning.

During the flight, Parrikar was given an exposure to various sensors and other sophisticated state-of-the-art equipment and their capabilities.

He said the aircraft will provide the Indian Navy the necessary reach and flexibility to undertake extensive surveillance as also to respond swiftly and effectively to contingencies in the country’s areas of interest.

According to him, even in the short phase of trials and testing, the P8i aircraft had achieved a number of operational milestones which includes participation in the search effort for Malaysian Airlines Flight MH 370, the first successful firing of air launched Harpoon Block II missile in the world, torpedo firing and active participation in major naval exercises.

The defence ministry 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.

The Indian Navy in 2009 became the first international customer for the aircraft signing $2 billion worth contract to acquire eight aircraft.

The last of the eight aircraft was accepted by India last month.

The P8i 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.

Several dignitaries including the chief of naval staff, Admiral R.K. Dhowan, and flag officer commanding-in-chief eastern naval command, Vice Admiral Satish Soni, were at the function.

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