The Indian Navy received the second of its eight Boeing P-8I long range maritime reconnaissance aircraft at the INS Rajali Air Base in Arakkonam, Tamil Nadu, raising surveillance capabilities that could extend from Gulf of Aden on the West to Malacca Straits on the East. The remaining six P-8Is of the eight-plane order would be delivered over the next one-and-half years. “The second P-8I landed at Rajali during the day,” Defence officials said here. The aircraft, based on the Boeing 737-800(NG) airframe, is the Indian variant of the US Navy’s P-8A Poseidon that Boeing has built. India is pursuing the option of procuring four more of the P-8Is from Boeing for `4,381 crore, on the basis of its 2009 January contract for delivering eight of these planes for `11,000 crore the Defence Ministry’s acquisition council, chaired by Minister Mr A K Antony, approved Boeing’s amended offset proposals for the four-plane order likely to be placed soon. Under the contract, 30 per cent of the deal would be ploughed back into India by Boeing as offsets in the form of purchases from the Indian defence, aerospace and internal security industry or technology transfers or capability building in modern technologies in these sectors. The P-8Is are fully integrated with state-of-the-art sensors and highly-potent anti-surface and anti-submarine weapons for maritime reconnaissance, anti-submarine operations and electronic intelligence missions. The planes are equipped with the Harpoon anti-submarine weapon systems, also from the Boeing stable. The P-8I not only incorporates India’s unique design features, but also India-built subsystems that are tailor-made to fit the country’s maritime patrol requirements. The first P-8I was delivered to India by Boeing in mid-May this year and the plane had carried out its first long distance mission when it flew out of Arakkonam to Emerald Island in Andaman and Nicobar in the first week of August. The plane, with anti-submarine warfare capability, took off from the Naval Air Base INS Rajali then and landed at INS Utkrosh air field. India is the first international customer of this aircraft, which has provided a quantum leap to its maritime surveillance capabilities and its strategic reach, as it can fly non-stop to reach the eastern or western end of the Indian Ocean in quick time.
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