New Delhi: Pakistan has inducted a new long-range spy plane to “keep an eye” on Indian submarines similar to what the Indian Navy is doing with China, The EurAsian Times said in a report.
A long-range maritime patrol aircraft, the ‘Sea Sultan’ has been inducted into the Pakistan Navy as part of its ongoing modernization program.
The Sea Sultan is a twin-engine modified Embraer Lineage 1000 jet procured to replace its fleet of long-range Lockheed Martin manufactured P-3 Orion spy planes.
Speaking on the condition of anonymity, Pakistani defence analysts shared some details about the Sea Sultan and its capabilities with The EurAsian Times.
A Rawalpindi-based defence journalist and researcher said seven to eight more are expected to be pressed into service after the completion of the project.
However, he did not disclose how long it will take for the aircraft to be operational.
Joseph P. Chacko, an Indian defence analyst, said it could be anywhere between two and three years before the Sea Sultan can be operational, the report said.
He said the procurement was in response to the order of 18 Poseidon P-8 LRMPAs placed by the Indian Navy and claimed that the induction of the Sea Sultan’s could have far-reaching implications for the Indian submarines, which have long remained an active threat to Pakistani warships.
The Pakistan Navy currently uses the Leonardo Sea Spray radar-equipped RAS 72 Sea Eagle aircraft.
This is capable of carrying out short-range maritime patrols.
The Embraer Lineage 1000 jet will be specially customized for long-range operations and the Italian firm Leonardo has once again been called in for the required modification.
Interestingly, both Pakistan’s C-27J Spartan and the Franco-Italian ATR 42 aircraft and ATR 72 had been modified by the company for maritime applications in the past.
South Africa’s Paramount Group has been selected for the Sea Sultan’s pre-conversion maintenance, repair, and overhaul, the report added.
This development has inevitably seen defence enthusiasts making benign comparisons between the newly inducted Pakistan Navy’s Sea Sultan, and its Indian Naval counterpart, the Poseidon P-8 (P-8I Neptune).
Chacko said the primary task of Sea Sultan will be to “hunt down” Indian Naval submarines and play a role in anti-ship operations, the report added.