Indian Navy pleased with P-8I performance on first op deployment

By SP's Special Correspondent

March 31, 2014: It was to scout the site of a tragedy that the Indian Navy had been enlisted for, but it also happened to be the first live operational deployment of its P-8I long range maritime reconnaissance aircraft. The hunt for ill-fated Malaysia Airlines Flight MH-370 saw three P-8I aircraft deployed from Arakkonam for duties from INS Utkrosh, with one aircraft subsequently deployed to Kuala Lumpur for Malaysia-led search operations in the Southern Indian Ocean. Naval sources say the P-8I performed excellently, and the crew had a chance to stretch the aircraft's legs in a live operational scenario in a networked environment, communicating with military aircraft from other countries and ground stations. While the P-8I type was fielded at the TROPEX 14 exercise as well, the hunt for MH-370 was its first real-world object-oriented mission. A US Navy P-8A was also in the air over the Indian Ocean as part of search operations. The two major components that the Indian Navy P-8I has which aren't fitted on the P-8A are Telephonics APS-143 OceanEye aft radar and a magnetic anomaly detector (MAD). Sources say crew got a chance to see what each of the subsystems and sensors were capable of on a long-range mission