With the induction of advanced P-8I multi-role maritime ASW aircraft, Indian Navy has come to the forefront of aerial Anti-submarine Warfare (ASW), ensuring that the hostile neighbours reworked their underwater surveillance and intelligence gathering tactics.
P-8I aircraft are true C4I (Command, Control, Communication, Computers & Intelligence) airborne platforms and a force multiplier for Indian Navy with its interoperability capabilities. These aircraft are efficient means to track ships and submarines, with an additional capability to hunt and destroy submarines. Since 2009, India has been in the process of inducting P-8I’s aircraft from Boeing, USA and more have been re-ordered, with the delivery process occurring sequentially.
The aircraft systems have been optimised to work in the Indian tropical climate and multiple Indian manufactured equipment have been installed onboard . P-8I maritime patrol aircraft is considered one of the best in its class with hi-tech gadgetry onboard and exceptional aircraft characteristics. ASW aircraft sometimes need to fly low for long durations for sonobuoy deployment or for Magnetic Anomaly Detector (MAD) operations, with low flying putting extreme stress on the aircraft’s airframe.
A submarine detection is a high air power-intensive role involving thousands of flying hours to cover a large area undertaking patrol patterns. With an increase in shipping traffic, the sea has become noisier and this underwater feature makes it easier for submarines to hide.
Indian Navy’s ageing Tupolev-142 (TU-142) and Ilyushin-38 (IL-38) and Dornier fleet required a rapid alternative despite the various upgrade of equipment during different Life Extension Programmes. The submarines technology have undergone a quantum advancement over a period, making them more silent (with techniques like Air-independent Propulsion or AIP) and possess long-range torpedoes. Such hostile submarines need to be detected and hunted down before they can cause damage to the Fleet ships.
Maritime ASW patrol aircraft like P8I have the weaponry to search, track and sink an enemy submarine during hostilities. P-8I is multi-mission aircraft with roles like surveillance, EW and execute C4I capability through a dedicated tactical data link and inter-operability features.