Boeing has been awarded a three-year contract to continue its support of the Indian Navy’s fleet of P-8I Neptune advanced maritime patrol/anti-submarine warfare aircraft earlier this month, according to a June 19 company statement. The new agreement is a continuation of the initial production contract set to expire in October.
“In addition to field and logistics service representatives, the contract includes engineering, support and planning,” the statement reads. “The scope will also include robust material support, including a 737-based component services program, which will be executed in conjunction with Boeing Commercial Aviation Services’ Fleet Services division.”
In early 2009, the Indian government and Boeing concluded a deal for the purchase of eight P-8I aircraft becoming the first international customer of an export variant of the advanced maritime patrol aircraft also currently in service with the U.S. Navy and Royal Australian Air Force. The Indian government placed a follow-on order to the $2.1 billion contract for four additional aircraft at the 2009 purchasing price in 2016. Deliveries of the aircraft will begin in 2020.
The first P-8I aircraft was delivered to India in May 2013 with the first P-8I squadron stood up at Rajali Naval Air Station in southern India in November 2015 (See: “India Inducts First Squadron of Anti-Submarine Warfare Plane”). The Indian Navy operates its entire fleet of eight P-8I aircraft at Rajali. The Indian Navy regularly conducts patrols in the Indian Ocean as China has stepped up its naval activity in the waters including the deployment of conventional and nuclear-powered submarines. The P-8I variant is one of the most advanced sub hunting planes in the world as I explained previously:
The P-8I is equipped with some of the most modern U.S. ASW technology including a Telephonics APS-143 OceanEye aft radar system and a cutting-edge magnetic anomaly detector The APS-143 is not present on the original P-8A Poseidon in use by the U.S. Navy.
The aircraft is also armed with U.S. weapons systems including Harpoon Block-II missiles, MK-54 lightweight torpedoes, rockets, and Mark 82 depth charges. The aircraft are all data-linked with Indian submarines in order to have the capability to pass on information about enemy vessels.
The new three-year contract “will substantially bolster Boeing’s performance-based support to the Indian Navy and should maintain or increase the operational capability of the eight-aircraft fleet,” according to a Boeing representative. Last year, the Indian and U.S. governments agreed to strengthen cooperation on anti-submarine warfare (See: “India and United States to Deepen Anti-Submarine Warfare Cooperation”).