The recent induction of the INS Vikrant aircraft carrier into the Indian naval fleet has brought India’s Indian ocean strategy into the limelight. India now has two aircraft carriers, the INS Vikramaditya and the new INS Vikrant for handling the safeguard on the 2 fronts of the Indian Ocean. Geopolitical analysts say that Chinese submarines pose a great challenge to India in the Indian Ocean region. Critics say due to the delay of project 75I and other factors India is not prepared to deal with the Chinese submarines.
According to the World Directory of Modern Military Warships, China has 79 submarines whereas India has only 16 submarines. These figures may not be much to worry about because the Indian Navy has an Eagle predator the “P-8I” aircraft which stays in the air and locates and neutralizes its prey in the deepest waters. The P-8I aircraft has such special capabilities that it can destroy enemy submarines in a few seconds.
In this article, we know about the P-8I anti-submarine warfare aircraft and its capabilities and functions which makes the aircraft to be called the Submarine Hunter.
P-8 Poseidon is a multi-mission maritime (MMA) patrol and reconnaissance aircraft developed and produced by Boeing Defense, Space & Security. The aircraft was modified from the 737-800ERX. It was primarily developed for the United States Navy. The P-8I is the Indian variant and India was the first international buyer of the P-8 aircraft. The P-8I is a multi-mission aircraft capable of performing Anti Submarine warfare (ASW), Anti Surface Warfare (ASuW), and Surveillance and Reconnaissance (ISR). P-8I is such an aircraft that is capable of all three areas of warfare i.e., maritime surveillance, ground surveillance, and air surveillance.
P-8I aircraft is called the world’s best aircraft for anti-submarine roles. P-8I aircraft have a magnetic anomaly detection system (MAD), which easily detects deep underwater submarines. The aircraft is also equipped with RADAR for long-distance surveillance and spying capabilities, and Synthetic Aperture Radar (SAR), which detects target location regardless of weather, time, or density of clouds. The Electro-Optical fiber/ Infrared systems on the aircraft is capable of capturing high-definition pictures and videos. 11 hard points weapons can be installed on the P-8I. 5 hardpoints at the internal bay & 3 hardpoint weapons on each wing externally. This aircraft is also capable of sonobuoy drop and monitoring. It can carry 129 sonobuoys with it. The sonobuoy is used to recognize submarines hidden in deep water. Even anti-ship missiles can be fired from P-8I anti-submarine aircraft.
In addition to offensive capabilities, defence operations. The aircraft has state of art self-defence mechanism which includes a RADAR warning receiver (RWR), missile approach warning system (MAW), and directional infrared Counter Measures (DIRCM).
|Propulsion||Two CFM56-7 engines providing 27,300 pounds thrust each|
|Speed||490 knots (789 km/h)|
|Max Take off Gross Weight||85,139 kilogram|
|Unit cost||201,400,000–275,700,000 USD|
|Manufacturer||Boeing, Boeing Defense, Space & Security|
P-8I can hit targets up to 2200 kms. This plane with two cockpits can land on very short runways. It can carry missiles, bombs, and mines at a speed of 789 kms. Due to the exceptional capabilities US Navy, Indian Navy, Royal Australian Air Force and Britain’s Royal AIr force inducted these planes in their naval fleet. Today 140 P-8I aircraft are in service around the world which are successfully flying with zero accident track record. Indian Navy primarily use thes planes for maritime operations but during the standoffs in Ladakh In 2020 and 2021, P-8I aircrafts were used for patrolling against China in Eastern Ladakh.
Indian Navy is also increasing its submarine fleet. At present Indian Navy operates 16 submarines, and 6 Nuclear powerederd submarines are ready to be inducted into the Navy.