About P-8I Patrol Aircraft
The Indian Navy’s P-8I maritime patrol aircraft is based on the Boeing Next-Generation 737-800 aircraft. P-8I is a long-range, multi-mission maritime patrol aircraft being manufactured by Boeing for the Indian Navy. It replaced the ageing fleet of the Indian Navy’s Tupolev Tu-142 aircraft. It was designed to protect the coastline and territorial waters of India. It can conduct anti-submarine warfare (ASW), anti-surface warfare (AsuW), intelligence, maritime patrol, and surveillance and reconnaissance missions.
The maiden flight of the first P-8I aircraft was made in September 2011. The official flight test programme of the first aircraft began in July 2012, and the second P-8I aircraft performed its first flight in the same month. The first P-8I was delivered to the Indian Navy in December 2012. The remaining aircraft were delivered between 2013 and 2015.
Why is it in news now?
Aircraft manufacturer Boeing has delivered the 12th P-8I long-range maritime patrol aircraft to the Indian Navy. This completes the follow-on clause for four additional P-8I aircraft contracted in 2016.
What are the key point of P-8I Aircraft?
- The aircraft is a long-range maritimereconnaissance and anti-submarine warfare aircraft.
- P-8I is an Indian variant of the P-8A Poseidon aircraft that Boeing company developed as a replacement for the US Navy’s ageing P-3 fleet.
- The P-8Is has a maximum speed of 907 kmph and an operating range of over 1,200 nautical miles, the P-8Is detect threats and neutralize them if required, far before they come anywhere near Indian shores.
- The Indian Navy became the first international customer for the P-8 aircraft in 2009.
- The Navy had procured eight P-8Is under a USD 2.2 billion deal in 2009. The aircraft are part of the 312A Naval Air Squadron based at Arakkonam in Tamil Nadu.
- In 2016, the Navy exercised the optional clause for four more P-8Is in a deal worth over USD 1 billion.
- Further in May 2021, the US State Department approved the possible sale of six additional P-8I aircraft and related equipment, to India.
- The six P-8Is will come installed with encrypted communication systems since India has now signed the foundational agreement Communications Compatibility and Security Agreement (COMCASA) with the US.
Indo-US Defense Ties?
- The P-8Is proposed sale which was approved in 2021 has helped to strengthen the US-Indian strategic relationship. For the US, India is an strong ally and an important force for political stability, peace, and economic progress in the Indo-Pacific and South Asia region.
- From near zero in 2008, India-US defence trade touched USD 20 billion in 2020, helped along by major policy upgrades. Defense purchases from the United States have been increasingly an integral part of growing ties between the two countries.
- The US designated India a Major Defence Partner (in 2016) and then granted it the same access to defence technology as NATO allies and Australia, Japan and South Korea under Strategic Trade Authorization-1 (STA) in 2018.