The Indian Navy Was the First International Customer for the P-8 and Today Operates the Second Largest Non-US Fleet
Boeing’s P-8I has played a critical role in maritime operations for the Indian Navy. How does the platform give an edge to the Indian Navy in the Indo-Pacific?
The 12 P-8Is in the Indian Navy’s arsenal significantly contribute to the navy’s capacity to keep the vast areas of interest in the Indo-Pacific under surveillance while also playing a greater role in regional maritime security. Notably, the Indian Navy was the first international customer for the P-8 and today operates the second largest non-US fleet. In fact, on December 19, it will be a decade since the first P-8I was delivered to the Indian Navy, a significant milestone in our growing relationship with the navy. We believe that the Indian Navy has a need for six more P-8Is and we stay committed to working with the Indian Navy/ ministry of defence to deliver those when contracted.
A formidable part of the Indian Navy’s fleet, the P-8 is a proven system with more than 140 aircraft in service that have executed more than 4,00,000 mishap free flight-hours around the globe. The P-8 is designed for long-range anti-submarine warfare, anti-surface warfare, and intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance missions. The P-8 delivers highest levels of quality, reliability and operability. A true multi-mission aircraft, it is defined by a unique combination of state-of-the-art sensors, proven weapons systems, and a globally recognized platform. Along with the Indian Navy, the P-8 family includes the US Navy, the United Kingdom’s Royal Air Force, Royal Australian Air Force and Royal Norwegian Air Force. Other militaries that have selected the P-8 include the Royal New Zealand Air Force, Republic of Korea Navy, and the German Navy.
The P-8 combines the most advanced weapon systems in the world with the cost advantages of the most operated commercial airliner on the planet. The P-8 shares 86 per cent commonality with the commercial 737NG, providing enormous supply chain economies of scale in production and support. Boeing’s expertise in commercial fleet management and derivative aircraft sustainment also provides customers with greater availability at a lower operational cost. The P-8 is engineered for 25 years/ 25,000 hours in the harshest maritime flight regimes, including extended operations in icy environments.
The Indian Navy’s fleet of P-8Is can further enhance the opportunity for closer cooperation between the navies and air forces of partner countries in the Indo-Pacific. We are confident about the rising importance of the Indian Navy in the Indo-Pacific, and are committed to supporting and enabling its journey.
How is Boeing supporting the Indian Navy maintain high mission readiness rates for the P-8I?
The patrol aircraft is an integral part of the Indian Navy’s fleet and has surpassed 35,000 flight hours since it was inducted in December 2012. Boeing continues to support the Indian Navy’s P-8I fleet through Boeing’s services business, providing spares, ground support equipment, and making field service representatives available to Navy at INS Rajali & INS Hansa on 24x7x365 basis. Boeing’s integrated logistics support has helped the forced attain the highest state of fleet-readiness.
Boeing has built a 60,000 sq. ft. Training Support & Data Handling Centre at INS Rajali, Arakkonam in Tamil Nadu as part of a training and support package contract signed in 2019. The facility was handed over to the Indian Navy, and the trainings have commenced since April 2022. The secondary centre at the Naval Institute of Aeronautical Technology, Kochi has also been handed over to Indian Navy. The indigenous, ground-based training will allow the Indian Navy crew to increase mission proficiency in a shorter time, while reducing the on-aircraft training time resulting in increased aircraft availability for mission tasking.
In 2021, we also launched the Boeing India Repair Development and Sustainment (BIRDS) Hub. BIRDS is an initiative to bring together ecosystem partners to shape India as a strategic destination for aerospace engineering, maintenance, repair and sustainment services. This is a one-of-its-kind initiative that seeks to provide customers with best-in-class solutions, efficient turnaround times, and optimal economical value, all available in-country. Under this program, we have by now signed strategic partnerships with leading indigenous players like Horizon Aerospace, Air Works, and AI Engineering Services Limited (AIESL).
An important aspect of the hub is training programmes to increase skilled manpower by developing sub-tier suppliers and Medium, Small and Micro Enterprises to build high quality MRO capabilities in India. Our programmes have skilled more than 3,700 frontline aerospace manufacturing workers and aircraft maintenance engineers. We have been working with Air Works in Hosur for the heavy checks on the P-8I fleet and they recently handed over three P-8I aircraft post phase 32 checks, taking the total tally to six P-8Is which have undergone heavy maintenance checks locally. Likewise, we have recently expanded to wheels and brakes with Horizon Aerospace and have recently certified AIESL for P-8I landing gear, slats and powerplant overhaul.
You have delivered all the 12 P-8Is. Do you think there is interest for more and any intimation on how many of them?
We believe there’s a requirement of additional P-8Is and we stand ready to support the Indian Navy as and when that gets contracted.
Are there any Indian suppliers contributing to the P-8I programme?
Boeing is committed to help build a strong indigenous aerospace and defence ecosystem, and invest in partnerships and talent to contribute to the vision of Aatmanirbhar Bharat. Boeing’s sourcing from India has steadily grown over the years and is today worth over USD 1 billion annually from over 300 supplier partners. Our Indian suppliers manufacture critical systems and components that go into some of Boeing’s most advanced aircraft. Every year we add new suppliers including several MSMEs, as part of our commitment to Aatmanirbhar Bharat.
In fact, over 25 per cent of our suppliers from India are MSMEs. We work with a number of Indian companies, including Avantel, Dynamatic Technologies, Hindustan Aeronautics, Bharat Electronics, Electronics Corporation of India, Rossell Techsys, Fokker Elmo Sasmos, and TATA Advanced Materials. They provide a variety of items such as structures, wiring harnesses, composites and electronics.