Navy eyeing more ‘submarine killers’

A file photo of Boeing P-8I landing at the Naval Air Station Rajali near Chennai The Indian Navy is considering the acquisition of more Boeing P-8I aircraft for surveillance and Anti-Submarine Warfare (ASW), according to Navy chief Admiral Sunil Lanba.

In an interview to the magazine India Strategic , Admiral Lanba said air surveillance capability was an important subset of naval operations and that while the proposal was on the table, he could not disclose the required numbers.

His predecessors have spoken of a requirement of 30 Long-Range Maritime Reconnaissance (LRMR) aircraft, under which the Navy has already inducted eight aircraft and placed an order for four more.

Because of the overall tardy process of routine modernisation of the armed forces over the last 30 years, the Navy has not been able to renew its inventory of submarines but the acquisition of the P-8I (I stands for India) has given it a very strong offensive capability to hunt hostile submarines.

In fact, in terms of contemporary weapon technologies, the P-8I, often referred to as the “submarine killer”, is perhaps the most advanced system that any of the three Indian services have acquired in recent years. The aircraft was deployed in 2013 by the Indian Navy around the same time the U.S. Navy did.

The Defence Ministry has officially stated that the P-8I is “capable of thrusting a punitive response and maintaining a watch over India’s immediate and extended areas of interest”.

Significantly, the agreement for the P-8Is was signed on January 1, 2009, within a couple of months of the 26/11 Mumbai terror attacks which exposed the vulnerability of the country’s maritime defences.