The Trump administration has recently put its stamp of approval on the sale of ten AGM-84L Harpoon Block II air-launched missiles, including the complete maintenance support package and training to integrate them with P-8I aircraft.
With the integration of these air launched anti-ship missiles, the P-8I shall be able to engage and destroy hostile surface warships of choice, even while they form a part of a Task Force unit.
“The AGM-84L is a solid propellant well tested sea-skimming missile with a range of 67 nautical miles and shall enable the Indian Navy to undertake Airborne maritime surface target engagement tactics more effectively.
A missile with the destructive power of AGM-84L Harpoon capability fitted on an advance aircraft like P-8I shall surely improve India’s response to any hostile presence lurking within India’s maritime area of interest,” Milind Kulshreshtha, C4I expert says.
The delivery of the follow-on order for four additional aircraft which was placed in 2016 was to commence in July.
Though, not yet formally confirmed by Boeing officials, with the US also locked down, the delivery schedule could be pushed back a little.
Role of P-8I Maritime Patrol Aircrafts
The P-8I aircraft have been acknowledged as an advanced airborne platform by Indian Navy, and a force multiplier with its in-built inter-operability capabilities.
“This makes P-8I a multi-mission aircraft with C4I ingrained within its Concept of Operations, a dedicated tactical data link fully supporting it in the inter-operability features. In 2018, the two countries had signed the Communications, Compatibility and Security Agreement (COMCASA) which enabled interoperability between the US and Indian defence forces, including the P-8I and US, operated P-8A fleets.
This means, now the two P-8 variants can share the Common Operation Picture (COP) in real-time to plan and execute missions as per this tactical picture to improve the resource effectiveness,” the C4I expert explains.
The primary designed role of the P-8I aircraft is to provide airborne Anti-submarine Warfare (ASW) capability to Indian Navy, to detect unknown submarines and ships lurking within India’s area of interest.