The INAS 312 squadron, known as ‘Albatross,’ recently reached a significant milestone by accumulating 40,000 flight hours. Based in Arakkonam, Tamilnadu, the squadron has been actively involved in diverse Naval Operations for a decade. The squadron’s first P8I aircraft, under the leadership of Captain H S Jhajj, successfully landed at INS Rajali.
Operating across air, surface, and sub-surface domains, INAS 312 has played a crucial role in various Naval Operations, showcasing its competence and versatility. They have spearheaded aerial missions, surface operations, and underwater activities. With a steadfast dedication to safeguarding national interests, the squadron has served as the first responder in the Indian Ocean Region (IOR), maintaining maritime security and protecting national sovereignty. Through operational excellence, INAS 312 has rendered invaluable service to the nation.
The accomplishment of 40,000 flight hours by the INAS 312 squadron, operating P8I aircraft, represents a commendable milestone and a decade of Naval Operations. Their role as ‘Albatross’ has been instrumental in leading operations across air, surface, and sub-surface domains. As the first responder in the IOR, they have consistently safeguarded national interests and played a crucial role in maintaining maritime security.
During a conversation with Cmde. Srikant B Kesnur (Retd), Former Director of the Maritime Warfare Centre, Mumbai & Naval Historian, highlighted the significant capabilities of the P8I aircraft operated by the INAS 312 squadron. The P8I Poseidon, renowned for its versatility, is considered a formidable asset for the Indian Navy and is utilized in various roles, including surveillance, reconnaissance, and maritime security operations. It has greatly contributed to maritime diplomacy efforts. It is equipped with advanced sensors, communication systems, and data-sharing capabilities, enhancing situational awareness and promoting collaborative marine security initiatives on a larger scale.
Cmde. Kesnur emphasized that the P8I Poseidon’s exceptional fitness, readiness, and long-range capabilities make it advantageous for rapid deployment and quick responses to maritime challenges. Its modern systems and efficient maintenance processes ensure operational availability and facilitate swift mission planning and execution. The P8I Poseidon’s extended fuel capacity, efficient engines, and advanced avionics enable it to conduct prolonged surveillance missions far from its base of operations. This long-range capability is crucial for monitoring activities in distant waters, supporting search and rescue operations, and contributing to regional maritime security.
Compared to earlier generation aircraft such as the TU and IL, the P8 Poseidon is considered far more advanced and capable of maritime patrol and reconnaissance. It is regarded as one of the best aircraft in the business today.
To provide timely evidence of the aircraft’s effectiveness, the Indian Navy recently deployed its Air Maritime Reconnaissance assets in response to the sinking of the Chinese Fishing Vessel Lu Peng Yuan Yu 028 on the 17th of May. Despite adverse weather conditions, P8I aircraft conducted extensive searches and located multiple objects possibly associated with the sunken vessel. The Indian Navy promptly deployed search and rescue (SAR) equipment at the scene at the request of PLA(N) ships. They coordinated SAR efforts with other units and guided the PLA(N) warships transiting to the incident scene.
This swift humanitarian action displayed India’s commitment as a credible and responsible partner in ensuring safety at sea. The Indian Navy remains deployed to support ongoing SAR efforts, with the INAS 312 squadron, ‘Albatross,’ steadfastly fulfilling its role.
The P-8I naval aircraft was crucial in rescuing renowned sailor Cdr (Retd) Abhilash Tomy during a challenging incident in 2018. As he participated in the Golden Globe Race, Cdr. Tomy’s boat, ‘Thuriya,’ was severely damaged in a storm, leaving him stranded and immobile—distress messages from Cdr. Tomy alerted the international community, triggering a collaborative rescue mission.
On September 23, 2018, an Indian Navy’s P-8I Poseidon, a long-range maritime patrol aircraft, departed from Mauritius and made visual contact with Abhilash Tomy’s Thuriya. The aircraft conducted an initial inspection before returning, while Australian Navy aircraft also carried out similar visual reconnaissance missions. It was determined that the French patrol boat, Orisis, was the closest vessel to Tomy and, thus, in the best position to execute the rescue mission. The P-8I aircraft played a crucial role in relaying vital information and visuals to the involved countries, facilitating the coordination of the rescue efforts.
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