Up Close With The Indian Navy P-8I

Had a brilliant tour of Boeing's P-8 Poseidon Mission Systems Installation and Checkout facility in Seattle yesterday. As we entered the facility, the first thing we saw was a gleaming P-8I. The airframe we saw was the second P-8I for the Indian Navy that made its first flight out of Renton to the Boeing Field earlier this month. The aircraft is now having mission systems installed before it checks out and joins flight test. Picked up some interesting new bits of information on the programme:

The first P-8I will be delivered to the Indian Navy in May 2013, after which flight acceptance trials will be conducted at a yet unspecified range in June/July 2013. Boeing says it will deliver the first three aircraft in 2013.

The two major components that the Indian Navy has asked for on the P-8I, that are absent on the P-8A for the US Navy, are an aft radar (Telephonics APS-143 OceanEye) and a magnetic anomaly detector (MAD).

The base of the P-8I's vertical stabilizer houses a DRS Technologies emergency locator transponder designed to detach from the fuselage and float on the surface in the event of an accident over water.

With certain communications and encryption equipment withheld on the P-8I as a result of the lack of CISMOA, the Indian Navy nominated the following replacement systems: Data Link II, IFF interrogator by Bharat Electronics Ltd, IFF transponder by HAL and speech secrecy system by ECIL and mobile SATCOM by Avantel.

The Indian Navy didn't ask for the P-8I to be mid-air refuellable from the IAF's standard drogue-hose system. However, Boeing has built in
Universal Aerial Refueling Receptacle Slipway Installations (UARRSI) in the fleet for India at no additional cost. This slipway makes the P-8I capable of receiving fuel from a boom tanker. This, Boeing was candid enough to admit, would make its new generation 767 tanker a future prospect for the Indian military.

While India is expected to exercise options for four more P-8Is once deliveries begin next year, Boeing internal projections see India signing on for up to 30 or more aircraft, keeping in mind the Indian Navy's "tremendous maritime domain awareness needs".

Visited the truly astounding Boeing commercial aircraft facility in Everett this morning, scoped out the 747, 777 and Dreamliner lines. An Air India 787 sat in a corner waiting for its engines. Nice.

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