Tuesday, 24 May 2011

Ninja Of The Sky Indian Navys Poseidon P-8I

After 2001 onward India was finally gave up its policy based on Pakistan. It now wanted its rightful place under the sun. So the Indian Navy now wanted a force which can patrol the high seas and not shallow neighborhood waters. To turn India into a truly blue water navy many steps were envisaged. you can gauge the future by the following statement "In the coming ten years, 400 new aircraft would be inducted into the Indian navy fleet",according to Rear Admiral Sudhir Pillai.

But the most critical part was the ability to keep an eye far from the India coast that is detect and neutralize enemy at a longer range. To that extent it needed some long range aircraft which can not only patrol but take offensive action against enemy subs or ships if required. Kind of a long range strategic bomber over the sea(without 1000lb bombs).

India had an ageing fleet of Anti Submarine/ IW/ Reconnaissance Squadrons which comprise mainly of Dornier 228,Ilyushin 38 and Tupolev 142M(as shown below respectively)

Dornier 228
Ilyushin 38
Tupolev 142M

Thus India was initially very interested in buying P-3C Orion Aircraft which were being procured by Pakistan. In a cable generating from US Embassy in New Delhi on 2005 May clearly defined the Indian Navy's interest in the P-3C Orion aircraft( some excerpts are shown below)

"We continue to see serious potential for the sale of P-3C Orions, and the chance to compete for multi-role combat aircraft. During Admiral Prakash's recent visit to the US he indicated a strong desire to move quickly on acquisition of P-3Cs, even requesting leasing two P-3's as an interim solution. "

"P3 Orion Maritime Patrol Aircraft - In response to their request, the Indian Navy was provided P&A data in September 2003 for 8 P-3B(H) Orion maritime reconnaissance aircraft. These aircraft would be brought out of long-term storage and fully refurbished, bringing them up to P-3C Plus capability. The total case value for 8 aircraft with associated weapons, equipment, spares and training would be approximately $1 Billion. When the Indian Navy learned that P-3Cs might be available they expressed interest in these aircraft instead of the P-3Bs. A P-3C aircraft and sensor package has since been cleared for release to India and a weapons package is under development. The US Navy's International Programs Office sent a delegation to New Delhi from February 15-16, to discuss P&A information for P-3C with the Indian Navy. Currently, the US Navy's International Programs Office is exploring Indian Navy requests for the ""hot"" transfer of one or two P-3Cs to the Indian Navy and is exploring the possibility of lowering the total costs of this proposed sale."

Due to expense,support cost and timing this deal worth $133 million fell through and in December 2005, India’s navy floated an RFP for at least 8 new sea control aircraft. Lockheed was invited to bid again, and this time, they were not alone. Bids from a variety of contenders were submitted in April 2007. The plan was for price negotiations to be completed in 2007, with first deliveries to commence within 48 months. Subsequent statements by India’s Admiral Prakash suggested that they could be looking for as many as 30 aircraft by 2020.

The competition and refurbishment efforts became more important due to international developments. In February 2006, IPT reported that warning bells have been sounded at an international summit over the mounting terrorist threats to sea lanes around Indonesia and the Straits of Malacca, which serves as a choke-point for a significant percentage of global shipping. At a subsequent high-level meeting in the United States that included Australia, Singapore, Malaysia, Indonesia, Japan and others, It was reported that India was asked to play a major policing role against sea-piracy in the region.

Successful procurement of modern maritime patrol aircraft would have certainly expanded India’s capabilities, as its naval responsibilities grew rapidly. To the west, India had to undertake anti-piracy efforts on the East African coast, with a base in Madagascar and a military co-operation agreement with Mozambique that includes coastal patrol responsibilities.India’s Ministry of Defence still had some reservations about the deal but with the increase in Piracy related issues and a growing call for Indian Navy to step in , it had to act because the current fleet was not enough to take on new responsibilities.

By January 2009, India had picked its aircraft: the 737-derivative P-8i Poseidon, a variant of the P-8A that’s readying for service with the US Navy as the P-3’s successor.The P-8I is a long-range anti-submarine warfare, anti-surface warfare, intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance aircraft capable of broad-area,maritime and littoral operations. The P-8I is a variant of the P-8A Poseidon that Boeing is developing for the U.S. Navy.


Two CFM56-7 engines providing 27,300 pounds thrust each


39.47 meters

Wing Span:

37.64 meters


12.83 meters

Maximum Takeoff Gross Weight:

85,139 kilograms


490 knots (789 km/h)


1,200+ nautical miles, with 4 hours on station (2,222 kilometers)


12,496 meters



This military derivative of the Next-Generation 737-800 combines superior performance and reliability with an advanced mission system that ensures maximum interoperability in the future battle space.P-8 Poseidon MMA has a wide range of tasks it must accomplish. It will search for and destroy submarines, monitor sea traffic, launch missile attacks on naval or land targets as required, and possibly engage in communications relays and electronic signal intercepts. Like its predecessor, land-surveillance missions are also a distinct possibility due to its capabilities.

This aircraft will play a role in a number of military doctrines. It will be a key component in the U.S. Navy’s Sea Power 21 doctrine’s Sea Shield concept, for instance, by providing an anti-submarine, anti-ship and anti-smuggling platform that can sweep the area, launch sensors or weapons as needed, and remain aloft for many hours. MMA will also play a key role in the U.S. Navy’s FORCEnet architecture via development of the Common Undersea Picture (CUP). As a secondary role, it will support portions of Sea Power 21’s Sea Strike doctrine through provisions of intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance capabilities.The P-8 will use the same 737 airframe as the U.S. Navy’s C-40 Clipper naval cargo aircraft (replacing the C-9 Skytrain in the Naval Reserve), the E-737 Wedgetail AWACS aircraft on order by Australia, Italy, Turkey, and South Korea; and the U.S. Air Force’s T-43 Navigation trainer. The key difference will be the “raked” wingtips that improve performance for low-level flight.

Boeing will build the P-8I at its production facility in Renton, Wash. The 737 fuselage will be built by Spirit AeroSystems in Wichita, Kan., and then sent to Renton where all aircraft structural features unique to the P-8 will be incorporated in sequence during fabrication and assembly. Aircraft quality and performance acceptance flight testing will be conducted from Boeing Field in Seattle.

The P-8A has its own industrial team, and most of them will also be involved in the P-8i project. A number of electronic and sensor systems will differ, however, due to a combination of Indian insistence on indigenous content, and American security concerns that forced the use of alternatives. Industrial partners in India, or specific to India’s version, reportedly include:

Avantel – mobile satellite system
Bharat Electronics Ltd (BEL) – IFF interrogator, Data Link II system
CAE, Inc. – AN/ASQ-508A Magnetic Anomaly Detector
Dynamatic Technologies Ltd.
Electronic Corporation of India Ltd (ECIL) – “speech secrecy system”
HCL Technologies Ltd.
Hindustan Aeronautics Ltd. (HAL)
Maini Global Aerospace (MGA) – fuel cell structural components, P-8A & P-8i
Northrop Grumman – Early warning self-protection (EWSP) and electronic support measures (ESM) systems, Embedded GPS/Inertial Navigation System (EGI)
Macmet Technologies Ltd., a subsidiary of simulator-maker CAE – simulators.
Larsen and Toubro Ltd. (L&T)
Telephonics Corp. – The AN/APS-143Cv3 OceanEye radar
Wipro Ltd.

Boeing has announced the completion on July 16 of the Final Design Review (FDR) for the P-8I, the Indian Navy’s long-range maritime reconnaissance and anti-submarine warfare aircraft. The P-8I, based on the Boeing 737 commercial airplane, is a variant of the P-8A Poseidon that Boeing is developing for the US Navy.

According to a company statement, ‘completion of the FDR locks in the design for the aircraft, radar, communications, navigation, mission computing, acoustics and sensors, as well as the ground and test support equipment’. The statement says it ‘paves the way for the program to begin assembling the first P-8I aircraft’.

“The P-8I’s unique capabilities are tailored to India’s maritime-patrol requirements. It has the reach and capability to defend India’s vast coastline and maritime waters,” said Vivek Lall, vice president and India country lead, Boeing Defense, Space & Security. Leland Wight, P-8I program manager for Boeing, said in the statement, “For P-8I, we are incorporating not only India-unique design features, but also India-built subsystems, so this agreement that the design addresses all customer requirements is a huge milestone,” adding, “It also leads us to the program’s next stage: We are on track to start fabricating the P-8I’s empennage section before the end of this year.”

Four Indian Naval officers huddled with Boeing officials during the five-day FDR in Renton, near Seattle in Washington, to ‘review relevant design information and performance against specifications’. The FDR addressed each functional subsystem in the aircraft, such as radar, flight deck, EO/IR and MAD and described their respective architecture, contractual requirements and compliance, besides displays for and usage by crew and ways for verification and demonstration of performance prior to delivery.

Boeing says in the statement, it will deliver the first P-8I to India within 48 months of the original contract signing, which took place in January 2009. India is the first customer for the P-8 outside the United States. Australia has also signed a Memorandum of Understanding with the US Navy for the aircraft.

The Indian Navy’s first P-8I is to be delivered by January 01, 2013 and has certain capabilities and equipment different from the US Navy’s P-8A, while enjoying the benefits derived from the design, specific to US Navy requirements, including a shorter development timeframe, focusing on specific elements that the Indian Navy asked to be added to the aircraft. It has also leveraged the tests, verification, integration and development that took place under the guidance and funding of the US Navy.

Boeing conducted a Preliminary Design Review (PDR) in Fall 2009 focusing on the distinct requirements of the Indian Navy, such as the aft radar and the indigenous communications equipment, and then a nine-day Provisioning Conference in Seattle in last February to better understand the planned Indian Naval operation of the aircraft in terms of force-integration structures, mission types and training time in flight and on ground to be able to formulate recommendations for spares and ground-support equipment technical maintenance manuals for the Indian Navy.

The Indian Navy asked for an aft radar on the aircraft to enable it to conduct surveillance over areas to monitor the picture and make sure no covert activity took place behind it, especially in littoral, coastal areas. The aft radar is more effective at lower speeds, but working with the forward radar, allows the creation of a more complete surveillance picture.

Boeing has recently been laboratory testing two pieces of indigenous equipment, the Electronics Corporation of India (ECIL) speech secrecy equipment and the Bharat Electronics Limited (BEL) Datalink 2. BEL is also building the IFFI interrogator, Avantel the mobile satellite system (satellite communication relay), Dynamatics is providing the mission and power equipment cabinets (interior cabinets with racks that house various live/replaceable units that power the sensors). Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL) will supply the IFF transponder and weapons bay doors for the aircraft, which will work towards compliance with the 30 per cent offset, under the Indian Defense Procurement Procedure (DPP) of 2006.
  1. Airframe of P-8I is actually a 737-800 fuselage.
  2. The wings of this bird belong to 737-900
  3. P-8 aircraft will run CFM56 engines.
  4. It has four wing pylons on station where Harpoons as well as depth bombs can be carried.
  5. It has the weapon’s bay under the middle-portion with room for five weapons(such as torpedoes (or depth bombs), which are launched into the water as standard torpedoes from a maximum launch altitude below 1000 feet.)
  6. The sonobuoys, are stored at the back with the launchers.
  7. The antennas for the indigenous IFFI interrogator and transponder are distributed around the aircraft.Defence PSU Bharat Electronics Limited (BEL) has delivered an Indian-designed Identification Friend or Foe (IFF) Interrogator to Boeing, for installation into India’s P-8i. Other Indian electronics have been  provided for final integration including BEL’s Data Link II communications system, Avantel’s mobile satellite system, and the Electronic Corporation of India Ltd’s (ECIL) speech secrecy system.Data Link II enables communication in fleet ships, submarines, helicopters / aircraft and shore establishments. This system enables Indian Navy personnel to exchange messages as well as tactical data in a speedy, reliable and secure manner. Functions: Message communication, Tactical communication. Benefits: Force multiplication of fleet by presenting super tactical picture as each platform in the network has both local (received from tactical system) and remote tactical data (received from another platform over the network). Facility to give tactical commands from various platforms. In certain critical situations (e.g. to avoid detection near enemy area), platform has to switch off all its sensors, but it is still be able to get the tactical picture over the network with remote from other platform's sensors. Missions can be accomplished for targets which are not within reach of local sensors but are detected by other platform's sensors and their position and other information is sent over the tactical network. Data Link II consists of a Main Peripheral Unit (MPU), Display Unit (DU) and a Keyboard Unit
  8. The universal receptacle is placed behind the crown of the aircraft, surrounding this equipment are the antenna for the mobile satellite system made by Avantel.
  9. For the Indian version there is an aft radar for surface surveillance, manufactured by Telephonix,placed  underneath the wing root as well as a magnetic anomaly detector for identifying large magnetic elements underwater. (Griffon Corp. subsidiary Telephonics Corporation got a contract from Boeing to supply its AN/APS-143Cv3 OceanEye Multi-Mode Radar as the P-8i’s aft radar. The contract includes systems for 8 installations, plus integration and support services.The AN/APS-143Cv3 OceanEye currently serves on the US Coast Guard’s HC-144A Maritime Patrol Aircraft and HU-25D Falcon Jet, as well as “most international S-70 Naval Hawk helicopters and certain NH-90, Super Lynx and other Maritime Helicopters.” It’s an advanced mechanically scanned array that’s lightweight, low power, and has a long lineage to draw on, including the related AN/APS-147 radar used on the US Navy’s new MH-60R helicopter. Maximum range is 200 nm against larger targets, with the standard clutter rejection features and a default set of Search, Weather, Beacon, and Small Target Detect modes. Options include land-looking ISAR and Stripmap SAR modes, Range profiling, and an integrated Identification Friend or Foe interrogator.

    On the flip side, the radar is still missing SAR/GMTI (Ground Moving Target Indicator) and AIS (Automated Identification System) modes. Its electronics are also a technology step behind AESA competitors like Selex Galileo’s Seaspreay series, which equips the USCG’s HC-130Hs, Britain’s forthcoming AW159 Wildcat helicopters, and some CN-235 and ATR-72 MPA aircraft.)
  10. The forward radar has been manufactured by Raytheon.
Unfortunately this contract does not include weapons and buoys. These have to be negotiated with the US Navy.The US DSCA has announced about India’s formal request for up to 21 AGM-84L Harpoon Block II Missiles, 5 ATM-84L Block II Training Missiles, Captive Air Training Missiles, containers, spare and repair parts, support and test equipment, publications and technical documentation, personnel training and training equipment, and related U.S. Government and contractor support. The estimated cost is up to $200 million, and this request is very explicit about their use:

“India intends to use the missiles on its Indian Navy P-8I Neptune maritime patrol aircraft which will provide enhanced capabilities in effective defense of critical sea lines of communication. India has already purchased HARPOON Block II missiles for integration on the Indian Air Force Jaguar aircraft and will have no difficulty absorbing these weapons into its armed forces.”

There are five side-facing operator stations and two observer stations with a picture window, through which visual checks can be made, especially in low-flying, search and rescue operations. The operators have five mission operator work stations, with upper and lower screens, to enable them to selectively monitor the sensors onboard. Operators can customize their console screens depending on their mission. There are a total of 21 crew seats throughout the aircraft, in case additional crew are required.

In terms of range of operations, the aircraft has a self-deployment of 4800 nautical miles and an operational radius of 1200 nautical miles, allowing for at least around four hours time on station, which can be increased by refueling enabled by the universal aerial refueling receptacle in case increased loiter, range or persistence is required.

The first P-8 aircraft was delivered to the Naval Air Station at Patuxent River in Maryland April 2010 for flight tests by the US Navy. The aircraft, T1, is not missionized, but has substantial test gear on it to collect data for to expand the airworthiness envelope.

The second aircraft, T-2, which is a platform for testing mission systems, successfully completed the program’s first mission systems test flight on June 8 in Seattle.

The third aircraft, T3, was tested for stores and weapons payload besides its mission systems after it was delivered in August 2010.All three flight-test aircraft have been tested by the US Navy at Patuxent River Base.

Upon delivery to the Indian Navy, each P-8I aircraft will be required to undergo acceptance tests scheduled by the navy as part of a process called Joint Receiving Inspection, which will focus on the functionality of the aircraft. The contract provides for more extensive testing of the first one or two aircraft and with possibly less exhaustive tests for successive aircraft, depending on the confidence inspired in the delivered product.

Latest report quotes Boeing’s P-8i program manager Leland Wright, who confirmed that Boeing has a license to export the AGM-84K Standoff Land Attack Missile-Expanded Response (SLAM-ER) to India, but said that P-8is will initially carry 4 of the less capable Harpoon anti-ship missiles instead. On the other hand, the Harpoon is the standard anti-ship missile of the US Navy, and India’s Block-II missiles will be more advanced than USN versions.

CAE in Montreal, QB, Canada announced about a subcontract from Boeing to provide its AN/ASQ-508A Advanced Integrated Magnetic Anomaly Detection (MAD) System for India’s 8 P-8is. The value is cloaked by its presence within a scattershot set of announcements worth a total of “more than $140 million.”

MAD systems work by identifying magnetic variations or anomalies caused by large metal objects, such as a submarine, in the Earth’s magnetic field. CAE’s MAD system is already in use by a number of countries and platforms: P-3 Orion derivatives flown by Brazil, Canada, and South Korea; Turkey’s CN-235MP and ATR-72 MPAs; Chile’s C-295 MPAs; and Japan’s locally-developed XP-1 maritime patrol aircraft.

Boeing has submitted a $300-million plan for investment in the Indian defense industry, covering 30% of the $1 billion (Rs.4,500 crore) that another 4 P-8i aircraft would cost. Boeing Military Aircraft president Christopher M. Chadwick, mentioned the draft offsets proposal, he said that
“The P8I order, which we won a few years ago, is on track and we are delivering the first of the eight P8Is in January 2013. The customer has informally talked about the potential for four more P8Is. That will take it (the order) to 12 (aircraft). That programme is on track, on cost and on schedule…”

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