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Navy planning to base its long-range surveillance planes in Tamil Nadu

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An official photo of P-8I maritime surveillance aircraft.

NEW DELHI (PTI): The Indian Navy is likely to base its newly acquired long-range maritime surveillance aircraft P-8I at one of its air bases in southern Indian state of Tamil Nadu.

“We are planning to base our P-8Is at Naval Air Station Rajali at Arakonnam, replacing the Russian Tupolov 142s now used by us,” Navy officials said here.

The P-8Is have been procured by the Indian Navy to replace the Tu-142 fleet inducted into the naval force in 80s. The Navy will start developing the infrastructure at the base to host ten aircraft.

“The Rajali base has a long runway at present used by the Tu-142s. More infrastructure will be created for the P-8Is which are expected to arrive in 2013,” they said.

The officials said that deployment and usage of the P-8Is was discussed by senior Naval officers during the Naval Commanders' conference in Visakhapatnam.

The process to acquire the long-range maritime surveillance aircraft was on for the past few years and on January 1 this year, the Defence Ministry signed an agreement worth $2.1 billion with the US defence major Boeing for procuring eight P-8Is.

These aircraft will form a part of the outermost surveillance ring of the Navy to patrol the 7,516 km-long coastline of the country. The Navy is also planning to procure medium range maritime reconnaissance aircraft to patrol the areas around 200 nautical miles from the coastline. It is carrying out technical evaluation of the aircraft offered in response to its global Request for Proposal (RFP) issued in 2008.

The Navy also uses its Dornier aircraft for carrying out medium range missions along with its Israeli Heron unmanned aerial vehicles.

The P-8I is a multi-mission maritime aircraft nicknamed ‘submarine hunter’ and can be used effectively against surface ships also.

Based on the Boeing 737 commercial aircraft airframe, P-8I is a variant of the American P-8A ‘Poseidon’ expected to be inducted in the US Navy around 2012.

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