VELLORE:“It is a divine experience to fly the aircraft, which is laced with powerful and modern equipment,” said a young pilot who has flown the majestic P-8I aircraft for over 5,000 hours.
The young pilot, beaming with confidence to take on any challenge when he is control of the P-8I aircraft, is one of the 50 officers and 228 sailors of the INAS 312 A squadron. He was part of the search operation of the Malaysian aircraft MH 370.
The pilot explained the capability of the aircraft to this correspondent during an exclusive interview inside the aircraft.
The pilot underwent over three months of training in Seattle to fly the aircraft, which is mounted with sensors for maritime reconnaissance, electronic intelligence missions and anti-submarine. They were not only built for detecting targets -- passive or active -- but also to destroy them since they are equipped with highly potent anti-surface and anti-submarine weapons.
“The sensor gives minute details and visuals of an object that is 150 nautical miles away using a 300 micron microscope infrared surveillance camera. The modern sensors also help detect submarines that are 9,000 feet under the sea,” said the co-pilot. Each crew comprises two pilots, five observers and two inflight technicians. It can accommodate 50 personnel onboard.
The aircraft has an anti-submarine suit and can carry 126 sonobuoys. There are three launching pads, and each have 10 launchers, which are located on the middle of the aircraft and three manual launchers.
“The sonobuoys can be controlled and guided from electronic support measure (ESM) till they hit and destroy the target,” said the pilot.
The sensors can also detect and pick the signals of radar of counterparts that are 1,500 nautical miles away.
“We can control the activities of the aircraft from the Mission Control Display Unit, which is integrated with the mission system in the cockpit,” he said.