SP Guide Publications puts forth a well compiled articulation of issues, pursuits and accomplishments of the Indian Army, over the years

— General Manoj Pande, Indian Army Chief

I am confident that SP Guide Publications would continue to inform, inspire and influence.

— Admiral R. Hari Kumar, Indian Navy Chief

My compliments to SP Guide Publications for informative and credible reportage on contemporary aerospace issues over the past six decades.

— Air Chief Marshal V.R. Chaudhari, Indian Air Force Chief

P-8I by Boeing: A Fabulous Past and A Promising Future

As the Indian Navy’s demand for more P-8I aircraft grows, Boeing company, manufacturer of the P-8I, is fervently stepping up to meet this need

Issue: 5/2023 By Neetu DhuliaPhoto(s): By Boeing
Boeing’s Team with their key P-8I suppliers at the event

Boeing showcased significant advancements in the indigenous development and maintenance of its P-8I maritime surveillance aircraft, heralding a promising future for the platform as part of its Atmanirbhar Bharat initiative. The event, featuring a comprehensive media briefing, highlighted Boeing’s commitment to expanding investments and catalysing economic growth while further ingraining the P-8I into India’s aerospace and defence landscape.

The Indian Navy currently operates a fleet of twelve P-8I aircraft, diligently fulfilling its reconnaissance and surveillance missions in the Indo-Pacific region. With a decade of operational excellence alongside the Indian Navy, these versatile maritime surveillance aircraft, numbering a dozen, have already accumulated an impressive 40,000 hours of accident-free flight time.

Boeing has already made a substantial economic contribution, amounting to $1.7 billion, to support the existing P-8I fleet serving the Indian Navy. Looking forward, Boeing envisions an even more significant economic impact, potentially reaching $3.2 billion by 2032. The expansion of the P-8I fleet to 18 aircraft alone is expected to inject approximately $1.5 billion into the Indian economy, concurrently fostering additional opportunities for indigenisation within India’s aerospace and defence sector.

Salil Gupte, President of Boeing India, emphasised, “Boeing’s steadfast commitment to advancing the Atmanirbhar Bharat vision drives our dedication to the P-8I fleet. As we respond to the Indian Navy’s request for more P-8I aircraft, we are actively focused on enhancing engineering, manufacturing, and sustainment capabilities in India, benefiting both Indian and global customers.”

P-8I fleet of the Indian Navy

Since its introduction in 2013, the P-8I aircraft, based on the 737 Next Generation platform, has seamlessly integrated into the Indian Navy’s operational framework, amassing an impressive 40,000 flight hours while consistently maintaining high mission readiness levels. Boeing has played a pivotal role in establishing critical training infrastructure, exemplified by the Ashok Roy Training Simulator Complex at INS Rajali and the newly inaugurated Kochi training complex earlier this year. The latter features a state-of-the-art simulator designed for P-8I aircrew and technical team training. This ground-based training approach significantly reduces on-aircraft training time, thereby enhancing mission proficiency and ensuring higher aircraft availability for the Indian Navy.

Dan Gillian, Vice President and General Manager of Mobility, Surveillance, and Bombers at Boeing Defense, Space & Security, commented, “Our partnership with the Indian Navy is a source of immense pride for us. By harnessing the exceptional capabilities of the P-8 as a versatile multimission aircraft, we are not only enhancing interoperability but also strengthening maritime security, effectively addressing the evolving needs of India and the broader Indo-Pacific region. Boeing remains steadfast in expanding its P-8 supplier network in India, which currently includes 15 public and private Micro, Small & Medium Enterprises that play a vital role in Boeing’s global supply chain by delivering critical parts, components, and services for the P-8.”

During the event, Boeing’s key P-8I suppliers were also present and lauded Boeing’s partnership, trust, and support. Ashwani Bhargava, Senior Director of Supply Chain at Boeing India, moderated a session with the key suppliers. Panelists, including Shekhar Sardessai, Managing Director of Kineco Group; H.G. Chandrashekar, Founder & Managing Director of Sasmos HET Technologies; and Kunal Bajaj, President of Aerospace & Defense Division at CIM Motherson, echoed a common theme - the transformational journey from Offsets to cost to performance of the supply base in India. Indian suppliers are not only performing on the global stage but excelling. Notably, the Indian supplier, Dynamatics, secured the Supplier of the Year award in Orlando this year. There is a billion-dollar sourcing activity happening from India, and this trajectory is on the rise.

The globally proven P-8 fleet, comprising over 160 aircraft in active service and boasting an impeccable record of more than 5,00,000 accident-free flight hours worldwide, includes allies such as the United States, the United Kingdom, Australia, New Zealand, Norway, South Korea, and Germany.

Strengthening Partnership with India

During the event, Jayant Baranwal, Editor-in-Chief of SP Guide Publications, directed questions to the Boeing team. Salil Gupte, President, Boeing India and Dan Gillian, Vice President and General Manager, Mobility, Surveillance and Bombers, Boeing Defense, Space & Security responded.

Jayant Baranwal: How effectively can you manage the skilled labour to meet the level of requirements and ensure zero compromise?

Salil Gupte: The talent level here is exceptionally high, and the range of capabilities is extensive. We have full confidence in our ability to cultivate one of the world’s most advanced and capable workforces through the implementation of effective skilling and training practices.

Let me provide a few examples to illustrate our commitment. We have established a series of programmes, collectively known as “Learn and Earn,” in collaboration with various suppliers and partners. These programmes engage individuals who have recently graduated from school. Additionally, our joint ventures have initiatives targeting young women from rural villages, individuals who may never have considered a career in manufacturing. This represents a significant shift from rural agrarian expectations to fulfilling dreams in manufacturing. We are actively recruiting and providing skill development opportunities in these regions.

Furthermore, we are committed to advancing equity, diversity, and inclusion within our company and local communities, we have inclusive programmes that encompass individuals with diverse abilities. Our overarching goal is to maximise capability across all segments of society, ensuring that we have the most capable workforce globally. While these are just a few examples, they underscore the extensive scope of our programmes.

We are dedicated to creating a highly capable workforce, and our supplier partners play a vital role in this endeavor. Through collaborations with the National Skill Development Corporation India (NSDC) and the Nettur Technical Training Foundation (NTTF), we are providing world-class training to frontline factory workers, further skilling India for the future of aerospace.

Jayant Baranwal: Have the Government of India’s initiatives contributed to the strengthening of your partnerships, and vice versa?

Dan Gillian: Certainly. As a business leader, I can confidently say that we make daily decisions to deepen our partnerships with India, seeking new capabilities and sources of supply, largely due to the impressive performance observed during supply chain reviews. Reflecting on the past, when I was here in 2007 and 2008, there was initial skepticism regarding how companies like Boeing would respond and engage in a transactional manner. However, our partnership with India has endured for more than eight decades, evolving significantly. We recognised the opportunity to take a comprehensive approach, moving beyond transactional engagements to invest in skilling and qualifications, thereby building a robust and enduring supply chain for decades to come. From having just 30 employees and a handful of suppliers, we have grown to employ over 5,000 individuals and engage with more than 300 suppliers for the P-8I. This journey has been truly remarkable, and our partnership with India continues to flourish.