New Delhi: The Indian Navy’s P-8I aircraft clocked 40,000 hours under the Indian Naval Air Squadron 312 Wednesday, marking a decade since its first flight in 2013.
The squadron, also known as ‘Albatross’, operates out of the Arakkonam suburb of Chennai, Tamil Nadu, and the first P-8I aircraft landed at INS Rajali, the Indian naval air station located near Arakkonam, on 15 May, 2013.
The squadron has been at the “forefront” of naval operations since then, defence sources told ThePrint, adding that it has been rendering yeoman service, safeguarding national interests (by) being the first responder in (the Indian Ocean Region).
Manufactured by the American giant Boeing, the P-8I was first ordered by India as part of a contract signed for eight aircraft in 2009. The Indian Navy’s P-8I aircraft fleet is a variant of the P-8A Poseidon aircraft developed by Boeing to replace the US Navy’s ageing P-3 fleet, ThePrint had reported.
The P-8I is equipped for long-range anti-submarine warfare, anti-surface warfare, intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance in support of broad area, maritime and littoral operations. Its communication and sensor suite include indigenous equipment developed by defence PSUs and private manufacturers, ThePrint had reported in 2020 about the P-8I’s capabilities.
The P-8I is not just responsible for coastal patrolling, but is also used for other critical missions like search-and-rescue, anti-piracy, and supporting operations of other arms of the military, according to Boeing’s website.
The aircraft has a significant history of activity for Indian naval air operations in the last decade.
It was not only deployed during the 2017 India-China standoff in Doklam but also during the border row in Ladakh in 2020, due to its radar capabilities to carry out surveillance and improved readings of the situation on the ground.
(Edited by Nida Fatima Siddiqui)
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