At company facilities in Seattle, Boeing has made an on-site delivery of the first P-8I long-range maritime reconnaissance and anti-submarine warfare aircraft to the Indian navy.

“India will receive this aircraft and two more of its eight contracted P-8Is in 2013. The program is progressing on schedule as Boeing assembles the fourth and fifth P-8Is,” the company said in a statement Dec. 20.

Under a $2 billion contract signed in 2009, Boeing will deliver eight of the long-range maritime reconnaissance and anti-submarine warfare aircraft to India starting in the first half of 2013, with an option for four more.

India has been the first international customer for the P-8I, which is a variant of the U.S. Navy’s P-8A Poseidon.

The Indian version has two unique components not on the P-8A — an aft radar and a magnetic anomaly detector fixed on the tail that can distinguish between an enemy submarine and a whale, according to Carl Lang, Boeing’s P-8I program manager.

The P-8I’s enhanced internal fuel tanks will allow it to fly 1,100 km (683.5 mi.) to a patrol area, remain on station for up to 6 hr., and then fly back to its base.

Two P-8Is meant for India already have undergone test flights, and weapon trials are expected shortly. Anti-ship Harpoon missiles, Mk. 82 depth bombs and Mark 54 anti-submarine torpedoes will be mounted on the aircraft.

According to Boeing officials, Harpoon production already has begun and the weapons will be delivered in June/July 2013. Weapons trials are likely to begin in the second quarter of 2013.

Boeing expects India’s P-8I order to increase to as many as 30 units, citing the Indian navy and coast guard’s interest in multimission aircraft.

“With 7,500 kilometers of coastline, and with three aircraft carriers, the Indian navy is going to have a tremendous need for ... maritime and surveillance aircraft,” Lang told Aviation Week earlier. “So we expect that once the navy starts using the P-8I the demand may go up to 30 or more.”

The P8-Is will operate from INS Rajali, a naval base at Arakonam, near the southern city of Chennai.

P-8I photo: Boeing