The Indian Navy is planning to station eight long-range Boeing P81 maritime reconnaissance aircraft at Arakkonam Naval Air Station making it a hub for modern maritime reconnaissance.

In January 2009, India signed a $2.1bn contract with Boeing for the acquisition of the P81 aircraft, which will replace the navy’s eight Russian Tupolev-142M turboprops.

Assistant chief of naval staff rear admiral SM Vadgaokar told The Times of India that the aircraft will be capable of long-range maritime patrol, anti-submarine warfare, anti-surface warfare, intelligence gathering and search and rescue missions.

“Eight aircraft are included in the contract, but we have an option to purchase four more, which may be bought from another manufacturer,” Vadgaokar said.

The P-81 has an operational range of 600nm and will be customised for India based on the Boeing 737-800 commercial airliner.