Indian Naval Air Squadron 316, the second squadron of P-8I maritime reconnaissance aircraft – which were also deployed during the peak of the India-China dispute in the Ladakh region in 2020 – was commissioned into the Indian Navy. The ceremony took place at INS Hansa, Goa with Navy chief, Admiral R. Hari Kumar, as the chief guest for the event. Addressing the gathering, he said that India is the ‘Preferred Security Partner’ in the Indian Ocean region which reflects the country’s ability to play an effective strategic role in the region, and needs to expand its operational reach. The Indian Navy is integral to this commitment and in pursuance of this objective, the commissioning of INAS 316 marks yet another milestone towards enhancing maritime security and surveillance in the Indian Ocean Region, he added.
“Commissioning of INAS 316, the second P-8I Squadron in the Navy marks yet another important step towards enhancing our combat capability. In today’s dynamic and complex security situation, the Squadron’s operational capabilities will significantly enhance our ability to protect, preserve and promote India’s maritime interests,” he said.
INAS 316 has been christened ‘Condors’ which are one of the largest flying land birds with a massive wingspan. The insignia of the squadron depicts a condor searching over the vast blue expanse of the sea. Known for excellent sensory capabilities, powerful and sharp talons and large massive wings, the bird symbolises the capabilities of the aircraft and envisaged roles of the squadron. INAS 316 will operate the Boeing P-8I aircraft, a multi-role Long Range Maritime Reconnaissance Anti-Submarine Warfare (LRMR ASW) aircraft, that can be equipped with a range of air-to-ship missiles and torpedoes.
The ‘game-changer’ aircraft is a potent platform for maritime surveillance and strikes, electronic warfare missions, search and rescue, providing targeting data to weapon platforms, providing time-critical surveillance information for the army and air force and is also the platform of choice for detecting and neutralising enemy ships and submarines in Indian Ocean Region.
The squadron has been specifically commissioned to be the home for the four new P-8I aircraft procured under the option clause contract and to ‘deter, detect, and destroy’ any threat in the IOR. These aircraft have been operating from INS Hansa since December 30, 2021, and the squadron is integrated with full-spectrum surface and subsurface naval operations.
INAS 316 is commanded by Commander Amit Mohapatra, an accomplished P-8I pilot with extensive operational experience. He has also flown maritime air platforms such as IL-38 and Dornier 228 and also commanded INS Baratang as well as having served as the Executive Officer of INS Tarkash.