Rajnath Singh flown in Indian Navy P8I for demo of reconnaissance capability

Uncertainty continues over the acquisition of additional aircraft from the US

Photo Credit : Indian Navy,

Defence Minister Rajnath Singh being briefed on board an Indian Navy P8I reconnaissance aircraft. Navy Chief Admiral R Hari Kumar is seated on the Minister’s Left

Defence Minister Rajnath Singh on May 17 took a sortie in an Indian Navy’s P8I snoop plane for a demonstration of its Long Range Maritime Reconnaissance and Anti-Submarine Warfare capabilities.

“During the mission, long range surveillance, electronic warfare, imagery intelligence, ASW missions and Search & Rescue capabilities employing the state-of-the-art mission suite and sensors were demonstrated,” the Indian Navy spokesperson Commander Vivek Madhwal stated. 

The Defence Minister was flown in the P8I from Mumbai shortly after he launched two frontline warships, Surat and Udaygiri. 

The flight crew for this sortie comprised two pilots and seven Naval Air Operations Officers, including three women officers.

Often hailed as a “game changer” the P8I fleet, since its induction in 2013, has significantly enhanced Indian Naval capability for persistent surveillance operations in the Indian Ocean Region (IOR).

The 12th P8I was delivered to the Indian Navy in February this year. Shortly thereafter, the Indian Navy commissioned its second P8I squadron, the INAS 316 in Goa to operate the four additional surveillance aircraft from the Western seaboard.  INAS 316 has been christened 'The Condors' after a large maritime bird.  

The first batch of eight P8Is are based at INS Rajali in Arakkonam in Tamil Nadu on the Eastern Seaboard.

Approval for the sale of a third tranche of six of these surveillance aircraft to the Indian Navy was accorded by the US Congress in May 2021 but India’s recent policy reinforcement on ending Defence imports has cast uncertainty over this acquisition. The US Congressional approval had indicated an approximate cost of $2.42 Billion for the six additional P8Is required by the Indian Navy.

The Indian Navy was the first international customer for the P-8 and today the P-8 is also operated by the U.S. Navy, the Royal Australian Air Force, the United Kingdom’s Royal Air Force and the Royal Norwegian Air Force.

Steps have also been taken to scale up MRO facilities within India for this fleet in order to ensure its high operational availability.  

Three P8Is are simultaneously undergoing heavy maintenance checks at the Hosur facility of Air Works, India’s largest aviation MRO, to demonstrate the growing capability to service these mission critical platforms in India, it was announced by Boeing earlier this month.


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