India’s long-range anti-submarine, reconnaissance, surveillance and electronic jamming capabilities in the Indian Ocean Region are going to get a further boost with the induction of four more P-8I multi-mission aircraft from the US next year. India has the option of buying another six from Boeing to be negotiated later in 2021, people familiar with the developments in New Delhi and Seattle said.
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 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 theongoing Ladakh standoff with Chinaas 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-offwith an aggressive Chinaalong the Line of Actual Control in Ladakh.
India had watched with some concern China’s efforts to militarise the South China Sea and expand its sea footprint.
Beijing had already acquired a string of ports in Myanmar, Sri Lanka, Pakistan, Iran and east Africa tonot only contain the Indian Navybut also challenge the presence of US Central Command forces as well as French and British Navy.
Beijing has 70 percent stake in Kyaukpyu port in Myanmar, which sits in the Bay of Bengal, Hambantota port in South Sri Lanka domina