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The Indian navy has a long and checkered history and was a creation of the English during the days of the Raj. When we say Indian navy, we talk of the navy from the days of Imperial rule as India inherited the same navy after the English granted independence to India by the Indian Independence Act 1946.

The Royal Navy seconded some old warships including some frigates, corvettes and sloops as well as torpedo boats to the Indian navy. Thus the Indian navy as a start had only British pedigree ships. The first cruiser INS Delhi was also of British origin.This continued for almost till 2 decades after independence, when a change was effected. Slowly the British era ships were replaced by Russian made ships and submarines.

An airwing was also launched which initially had French and British airplanes. In fact the first aircraft carrier the INS Vikrant which operated Sea Hawks  was an old Royal Navy carrier, which was used in World war II. This aircraft carrier was used in 1971 to blockade East Pakistan and bomb the port of Chittagong. The Navy also got sea survelliance capacity with the IL-114 a long range maritime aircraft. This was a Soviet plane and had long endurance.

With the advent of the 21st century and the break up of the Soviet Union, led to a re-alignment and a strategic partnership developed between India and the USA. The Navy like the IAF also began to shop for American aircraft. The matter became urgent as the Chinese navy began a strategic encirclement of India. Chinese submarines are known to move around in the Bay of Bengal and the Indian Ocean. One of the Chinese submarines a nuclear powered also docked in the Lanka port of Trincomalee.

There was an urgent need for a spy plane that coould also hunt the submarines. The IN after a study opted for the Boeing P-8i for this purpose. This is an American spy plane and developed by the Boeing company and is already in use in the American navy. The IN opted to buy 8 machines at a cost of $2 billion. Thats a lot of money , but such planes do not come cheap. 

The navy put these machines into use and based them at Arkonam and Port Blair. The spy plane has an endurance of over 6 hours and can scan thousands of square miles of the ocean in one sortie. It has the latest sonar and electronic equipment to detect submarines. The planes began to scan the Indian Ocean and Bay of Bengal and detected many Chinese submarines operating in these waters. 

The Boeing P-8i is a force multiplier and carries the Harpoon anti- submarine missile. This missile can be used to knock of a submarine ieven if it is submerged. The aircraft fies low over the ocean to detect and hunt the submarine. As the plane descends low to the ocean its speed also slows and at this time it is  vulnerable to enemy attack. Despite this drawback the Boeing spy plane is a state of the art machine

Seeing the success of the machines IN opted to buy 4 more of these sea planes and accordingly an order for 4 more Boeings  has been placed at a cost of one billion dillars. These machines will be supplied to the navy over a span of 3 years. The contract was signed in Delhi by the Under secretarry of naval procurement of the USA and the Indian counterpart, The planes are extremely useful and add to the power and trhust of the Indian navy.

The version opted by the Indian navy is the P8i Posiedon. It is a twin engine turbo jet and has the same platform as the 737 and 757. The IN have co opted an made in Israel, over the horizon radar. The aircraft take off from Port Blair and even cover the strategic Strait of Malacca close to Indonesia. They also sweep the Indian ocean and try and plot the movement of Chinese submarines. A war room in Naval HQ keeps an up to date list of all hostle submarines in India's strategic waters and sea lanes.Boeing P8i  has added to India's strength in depth.



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