Indian Navy is investing in latest maritime reconnaissance and surveillance platforms
Bengaluru: The increasing presence of Chinese nuclear submarines and Pakistan’s expansion of underwater capabilities have given rise to a changed but challenging threat profile. This along with piracy, smuggling to merchant shipping now require comprehensive long range, precise maritime reconnaissance and surveillance platforms with comprehensive information sharing and command and control facilities.
The Indian Navy signed the initial contract for eight P-8I for USD2.1 billion to replace the ageing Tu-142M, later a follow order for four more aircraft was placed. Eight air craft have so far been delivered. The P-8I, unlike the aircraft it replaces and many other similar aircraft in service around the world, is based on a turbofan powered Boeing 737 platform which provides it with long range and higher speed. This military derivative of the Next-Generation 737-800 combines superior performance and reliability with an advanced mission system that ensures maximum interoperability in the future battle space.
Regarded across the globe as the most potent anti-submarine warfare and armed intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance aircraft, the P-8I has given the Indian Navy an edge over other naval forces in the strategically important Indian Ocean Region (IOR). It can fly higher, farther and faster than other maritime patrol aircraft and can detect, track and report on more targets than ever before.
The P-8I’s range of over 1,200 nautical miles gives the Indian Navy a reach and capability to mount extensive surveillance of the seas. The Indian Navy’s P-8I fleet today provides surveillance support across the seas, from the East coast of Africa to the busy trade route of Malacca Strait. The P-8Is assist India carry out its naval responsibilities that include protecting its borders from terror attacks, executing search-and- rescue missions, undertaking anti-piracy efforts and coastal patrolling responsibilities. The main sensor of the P-8 is the AN/APY-10 maritime, littoral and overland surveillance radar. The radar provides high resolution imaging for maritime and land operations, it is also capable of detecting submarine periscopes. The radar has a weather avoidance mode to prevent the aircraft from flying into undesirable weather conditions.
Unlike the US Navy P-8A, the Indian Navy version has two additional sensors in the Telephonics APS-143 OceanEye aft radar and a magnetic anomaly detector (MAD). The Telephonics APS-143 OceanEye is ocean surveillance radar capable of SAR mapping and search and rescue, the radar is also a part of Mahindra-Telephonics offer to the Indian Navy Helicopter programmes. The MAD was not requested by the US Navy as it wants to operate the P-8A at higher altitudes where the MAD is less effective but the Indian Navy has insisted on including one. The MAD picks up magnetic field anomalies under water which are created by the submarine steel hulls.
The package also includes the L-3 WESCAM MX-20 EO/IR gimballed pod which can detect, identify and recognise targets day and night through a thermal, day and low light camera. Laser sensors allow range finding and target designation.
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