The Indian Navy’s Boeing P-8I Neptune Maritime Patrol Aircraft commenced operations from INS Hansa, Goa with two aircraft arriving on 30 December 2021.
The aircraft were inducted after the fitment of indigenous equipment and Flight Acceptance Trials. On arrival, the aircraft were welcomed by a MiG 29K formation. The Indian Navy had acquired the first batch of eight P-8I aircraft in 2013 that are stationed at INS Rajali, Arakkonam. The second batch of four additional aircraft will be based at Indian Naval Air Squadron 316, to be commissioned at INS Hansa. Boeing delivered the 11th P-8I to the Indian Navy in October 2021.
INS Hansa is the naval air station where a French Navy Rafale M fighter will be conducting ski jump tests starting this week. You can see the ski jump in the picture above. The test campaign will assess if the French-made carrier fighter is able to launch from the Indian Navy aircraft carrier INS Vikrant. Boeing previously demonstrated this capability for its F/A-18E Super Hornet from a similar land-based facility. The Rafale M and Super Hornet are competing for an Indian Navy procurement contract.
The P-8A is a long-range multi-mission maritime patrol aircraft capable of broad-area, maritime and littoral operations. A military derivative of the Boeing Commercial Next-Generation 737 airplane, the P-8A combines superior performance and reliability with an advanced mission system that ensures maximum interoperability in the battle space.
The P-8I is a customized export variant of the P-8A featuring specific equipments for the Indian Navy. Two major components not fitted on the P-8A are a Telephonics APS-143 OceanEye aft radar and a magnetic anomaly detector (MAD). India has received eight of the P-8I variant to date with four more in production to be delivered from April 2020. It intends to procure six more aircraft.
The P-8A is militarized with maritime weapons, a modern open mission system architecture, and commercial-like support for affordability. The aircraft has been modified to include a bomb bay and pylons for weapons – two weapons stations on each wing – and can carry 129 sonobuoys. The aircraft is also fitted with an in-flight refueling system. With more than 180,000 flight hours to date, P-8 variants, the P-8A Poseidon and the P-8I, patrol the globe performing anti-submarine and anti-surface warfare; intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance; humanitarian; and search and rescue missions.
The United Kingdom is one of six international customers for the P-8A Poseidon. The first British Poseidon MRA Mk1 was delivered in 2019. The U.S. Navy is on contract to receive 128. As a cooperative partner with the Maritime Patrol and Reconnaissance Program Office, Australia began receiving their P-8A aircraft in 2016 with eight delivered and four more in production; Norway will begin receiving their five P-8As in 2022; both New Zealand and South Korea have signed agreements with the U.S. Navy to purchase four and six aircraft respectively. The German Navy is the latest customer to date.
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