The Indian Navy today received its ninth P8-I long-range maritime reconnaissance and anti-submarine warfare aircraft from Boeing.
The aircraft, first of the second batch of four P8-I bought by India, arrived in Goa from Seattle in the US after stops at Hawaii, Guam and Brunei.
Eight of these aircraft, which were ordered in the first batch, have already been delivered and are in service with the Indian Navy.
The Indian Navy is the largest foreign customer of the P8 platform. While eight have already been indicted into service, four (one arrived today) are on order and six more are being procured. The Navy, reports say, plans to have a total of 22 of these aircraft in the next few years to keep an eye on Chinese movements in the Indian Ocean Region, most importantly its submarines.
This video by Boeing explains how the Indian Navy P8s track submarines.
The aircraft arrived at a time when the Indian Navy is holding the Malabar Naval Exercise in the Arabian Sea with its Quad partners — the US, Japan and Australia. India’s P8-I aircraft are also participating in the exercise.
Apart from India, the US and Australia also use P8 aircraft.
India has also used the aircraft to track Chinese deployments along the Line of Actual Control amid the ongoing standoff in eastern Ladakh.
Indian Navy P8s were seen flying towards Ladakh at leas twice.
The Indian Army had successfully used the P-8I aircraft to monitor Chinese movements along the border during the 73-day-long Doklam standoff. As Captain D K Sharma (Retd), who was serving as the spokesperson and Public Relation Officer of the Indian Navy, revealed recently, “The aircraft were live-streaming data to support decision making during the Doklam face-off”.
The aircraft, this report says, was also put to use “to keep an eye on movement of Pakistani troops after the Pulwama terror attack last year”.
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