NEW DELHI, March 28 (PTI): The Indian Navy will commission on Tuesday its second long-range maritime reconnaissance air squadron comprising a fleet of P-8I aircraft to add muscle to its surveillance power in the Indian Ocean Region.
The air squadron 316 will be commissioned at the INS Hansa, a naval air station near Dabolim in Goa, in the presence of Chief of Naval Staff R Hari Kumar, officials said on Monday.
The Indian Navy Air Squadron (INAS) 316 will operate the Boeing P-8I multi-role long-range maritime reconnaissance and anti-submarine warfare aircraft, they said.
The new squadron is being raised amid growing concerns over China’s increasing forays into the Indian Ocean Region, considered the backyard of the Indian Navy.
The P-8I aircraft is powered by twin jet engines and can be equipped with air-to-ship missiles and torpedoes.
INAS 316 has been christened ‘The Condors’ after one of the largest flying birds in the world. The insignia of the squadron depicts a Condor searching over the blue expanse of the sea.
The Indian Navy had acquired the first batch of eight P-8I aircraft in 2013 that are stationed at INS Rajali in Arakkonam in Tamil Nadu.
“The INAS 316 will operate the second batch of four additional P-8I aircraft, adding teeth to the armour of the Indian Navy, to deter, detect and destroy any threat to the nation in the Indian Ocean Region,” said an official.
Last month, Boeing delivered the 12th Poseidon-8I maritime patrol aircraft to India.
The fleet is being operated by the Indian Navy primarily to carry out surveillance in the Indian Ocean region.
The P-8I is an integral part of the Indian Navy’s fleet and has surpassed 35,000 flight hours since it was inducted in 2013.
The aircraft, with its superior maritime surveillance and reconnaissance capabilities and operational readiness, has proven to be an important asset to the Navy.
The Indian Navy was the first international customer for the P-8 aircraft.
The aircraft is also operated by the US Navy, the Royal Australian Air Force, the United Kingdom’s Royal Air Force and the Royal Norwegian Air Force.