Arakkonam Arms Up With Fourth P-8I Recon Aircraft
NEW DELHI: Navy’s bid to increase its ability to keep a watch on the Indian Ocean Region got further enhanced with the fourth of the eight long-range maritime reconnaissance aircraft, P-8I, from the US aerospace major Boeing reaching Arakkonam in Tamil Nadu.
The plane was delivered to the Indian Navy by Boeing at its air field in Seattle in the US and the aircraft was flown to INS Rajali naval air station in Arakkonam, reaching there on Wednesday.
With this, Boeing has completed first half of its eight-plane contract worth $2.1 billion that was signed in January 2009. “This marks an important milestone -- the halfway point for P-8I deliveries to India,” Boeing Defence and Security India Vice President Dennis Swanson said on the occasion.
Two more of the P-8Is will reach Arakkonam before the end of this year, with the fifth plane slated for delivery in three months from now. The last two of this order will join the fleet before the end of 2015.
At INS Rajali, the fourth P-8I joined three other P-8Is that were delivered to the Indian Navy earlier.
“The Indian Navy is putting the first three P-8Is through their paces operationally, and the P-8I delivered now will begin flight trials in the coming months,” Boeing P-8I program manager Leland Wight said.
One of the three P-8Is delivered earlier were used by Indian Navy to search for the missing MH-370 Malaysian airliner in March this year in the Indian Ocean region.
Based on the company’s Next-Generation 737 commercial airplane, the P-8I is the Indian Navy variant of the P-8A Poseidon that Boeing has developed for the US Navy.