Four sub-killer P-8I craft coming to India next year : Navy Needs Another 36
India is already operating one squadron of P8Is long range Maritime reconnaissance aircraft including antisubmarine surveillance, interdiction and with electronic jamming capabilities.
The first squadron was formed in May 2013 and by 2015 there were 8 aircrafts and by 2018 the full Squadron was functioning with all the 12 aircrafts.
Now India’s long-range anti-submarine,, surveillance and electronic jamming capabilities in the Indian Ocean Region are going to get further enhanced with the induction of four more P-8I multi-mission aircraft from the US next year.
In Oct 2019, the Defence Acquisition Council headed by Raksha Mantri Rajnath had given approval for purchase of another 10 x P8I. Normally it takes about three years for the order to materialize.
However a few days after the DAC meeting there was visit by Admiral John Aquillino, the USA commander of their Pacific Command and he promised to divert four aircrafts from his quota that were under assembly.
India has the option of buying another six from Boeing out of the balance 10 approved by the DAC, to be negotiated later in 2021. The Indian Navy variant of the P-8A Poseidon – P-8I where I stands for India – is essentially designed for maritime patrol.
Integrated with the Harpoon Block II air launched missiles and lightweight torpedoes, the reconnaissance craft – it can carry 129 sonobuoys to locate subs – turns into a deadly submarine killer that can also launch anti-ship missiles.
The proposed acquisitions come against the backdrop of China’s efforts to militarize the South China Sea and expand its sea footprint into Indian Ocean.
Though Beijing has acquired a string of ports in Myanmar, Sri Lanka, Pakistan, Iran and east Africa they cannot contain or obstruct the Indian Navy or challenge the presence of US Central Command forces as well as French and British Navy.
In case of active hostilities either the host country themselves will shut out all facilities to Beijing out of their Ports or they will have to be ready to face the fury and wrath of the Indian Navy and the IAF.
Even the US Navy and the rest of the Quad may pay a visit.
Beijing has 70 percent stake in Kyaukpyu port in Myanmar, which sits in the Bay of Bengal, and Hambantota port in South Sri Lanka will be cleaned out of every thing Chines, within minutes of first engagement between an IN and PLAN warship.
Thereafter Gwadar port in Pakistan which sits on the mouth of Gulf of Oman and the port of Jask in Iran located on the edge of Persian Gulf will be obvious targets to be bombed out.
The possibility of China attempting to replicate its aggressive posture along the Line of Actual Control at a time of its choosing in the Indian Ocean Region cannot be ruled out. so India’s stated policy should be that it will act first and not wait for Chinese action.out of these bases.
India has already inched closer to formalising the QUAD – Quadrilateral Security Dialogue – strategic grouping. The United States, Japan and Australia are the other members.
In some measure, the QUAD is already an operational reality on the high seas due to India signing the Communications, Compatibility and Security Agreement (COMCASA) agreement in September 2019. The P-8I helped.
The pact provided the legal framework for exchange of encrypted communication. P-8I makes this possible with ease, particularly since the aircrafts are interoperable, can communicate securely and is designed for.
“This is a de-facto QUAD because these have interoperability with the P-8A Poseidon delivered to other countries,” said the official.
The secure communications enables one aircraft to share real-time operational intelligence, including a Common Tactical Picture with other P-8 aircraft.
The P-8I aircraft is designed for long-range anti-submarine warfare, anti-surface warfare, and intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance missions. It operates with joint and combined
But it can be used elsewhere too. The military had relied on the reconnaissance aircraft for surveillance during the ongoing Ladakh standoff with China as well as the 2017 Doklam standoff.
It has a range of about 2,200 km and flies at a maximum speed of 490 knots, or 789 km per hour.
The negotiations for the purchase of six more P-8I aircraft are yet to begin, a government official in New Delhi said. The purchase of six P-8I was cleared by the Defence Acquisition Council in November 2019, long before the stand-off with an aggressive China along the Line of Actual Control in Ladakh.
So by next year Indian Navy should be Commissioning its Second P8I LRMR Squadron from a base in Southern Naval Command. Next while waiting for the arrival of next batch of 6 aircrafts, the DAC will be required to clear the next 14 aircrafts.
So by 2026 Indian Navy should have commissioned its third LRMR Squadron. By 2030 it is hoped that the 4th LRMR is commissioned and based permanently in Andaman& Nicobar ?