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 Landing on Schedule
The first P-8I for the Indian Navy arrives at Arakkonam

P-8I lands at Naval Air Station Rajali
P-8I lands at Naval Air Station Rajali

The Indian Navy’s first Boeing P-8I Long Range Maritime Reconnaissance (LRMR) and Anti Submarine Warfare (ASW) aircraft landed at Naval Air Station Rajali, Arakkonam (in Tamil Nadu) on May 15 last month. Indian Naval Air Arm personnel flew the P-8I bearing tail no. 321 on its maiden flight to India. It is the first to arrive of the eight aircraft that have been ordered by the Indian Navy. The arrival of the P-8I marked an excellent month for the Indian Navy, which also saw its first MiG-29 K squadron, (INAS 303 Black Panthers) being commissioned at INS Hansa in Goa. The Indian Navy is now on course to double its fleet of fixed and rotary wing assets by beginning of the next decade.

The Indian Navy was the first export customer for the P-8I. Negotiations are on to exercise option for four more P-8I aircraft. The long-serving Tu-142 long range maritime patrol aircraft will be retired, once all the P-8Is are inducted into service. This is likely to take place around the 2015-2018 timeframe. The Tu-142 entered service with the Indian Navy in 1988. Its outstanding long range capability meant that it could fly a range of 5000 nautical miles with an endurance of 14 hours.

The P-8I is so new that the US Navy has just begun to take delivery of its aircraft, having received seven P-8A Poseidons so far. These aircraft are being used to train navy crew at Naval Air Station Jacksonville, Florida. The US Navy has been flying the brand new aircraft extensively and discovering the capabilities of the aircraft. The navy, which has plans to purchase 117 P-8As, will receive its aircraft at a rate of nearly one each month. Boeing is on contract to build and support 24 P-8A aircraft as part of three Low Rate Initial Production (LRIP) contracts awarded in 2011 and 2012. In addition to the US Navy and Indian Navy orders, Boeing is hoping for another 100 aircraft orders from other customers.

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