India to up defences in Andamans, Lakshadweep

IANS

Keeping in mind China’s forays into the Indian Ocean region, India has approved plans to beef up its military infrastructure and force levels in the Andaman and Nicobar Islands and the Lakshadweep chains on the eastern and western seaboards. The plans, approved at a meeting of the country’s security top brass last month, involves the ramping of army, navy, air force and coast guard infrastructure, including a radar network, and force levels of both men and machines, a top defence ministry official said.

“The plans, approved at a meeting of the armed forces with the national security adviser’s office last month, involves significant enhancement of military infrastructure and force accretion in both the Andaman and Nicobar and Lakshadweep chains,” the official said on condition of anonymity.

There is growing realisation in India that the island territories hold the key to dominating the vital maritime zones and securing the economic and strategic interests, apart from boosting engagements with friendly countries such as Indonesia, Thailand, Malaysia, Myanmar, Sri Lanka, Mauritius and the Maldives by offering support in capacity building, military assets transfer, and joint patrolling of the common maritime borders.

The Andaman and Nicobar chain already hosts a tri-services command, with elements of the army, navy and air force as part of its force structure, while the Lakshadweep chain has a coast guard district headquarters and stations.

Among the approvals obtained are upgrading the Andaman and Nicobar Islands as an amphibious warfare training hub, as also increasing the army’s force levels to more than a brigade, the official said.

The naval air bases at Port Blair and the air force base in Car Nicobar too will be upgraded to facilitate fighter jet, helicopter and heavy transport plane operations.

The Indian Air Force (IAF) has already tried out its potent frontline Sukhoi SU-30 fighter jets from air bases in the Andaman and Nicobar Islands.

The Shibpur airstrip in north Andamans will be extended from 3,200 feet to 12,000 feet to support all types of aircraft and night-flying operations.

The navy and air force bases in both the island chains will also deploy unmanned aerial vehicles, to augment surveillance alongside the radar chains.

The IAF chief, Air Chief Marshal P.V. Naik, when asked about the force accretion plans, said: “Of course, we are (going to do it). But it will happen in a planned manner. It is not immediate, but over the next two or three (five-year) plans.”

The navy, on its part, will scale up the jetties at Diglipur in north Andamans, Kamorta in south Andamans and Campbell Bay in Car Nicobar into “operational turn-around bases” with better refuelling and communication facilities, and more personnel.

It will also place more warships, including landing pontoon docks that aid amphibious warfare with capacity to carry combat troops and battle tanks, in the Andaman and Nicobar chain.

In Lakshadweep, the coast guard has already opened a district headquarters and operates a couple of stations. Now the navy plans to have a detachment in the island chain, which would be upgraded into a full-fledged base in the future with fast attack craft and interceptor boats.

The armed forces in the Lakshadweep will also act as deterrents to the Somali pirates operating around the island chain, particularly in the Nine Degree Channel and the Arabian Sea.

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Posted by pilotpaul on Jun 29 2011. Filed under All News. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. Both comments and pings are currently closed.

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