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Coast Guard gets an eye in the sky
June 11, 2008 14:52 IST
Aimed at boosting the Coast Guard's (CG) surveillance and reconnaissance capabilities along India's western coast, a new CG Air Enclave will be made operational on Thursday at Porbandar in Gujarat.
The Air Enclave would equip the CG in performing its surveillance and reconnaissance roles better, off the coastal areas bordering Pakistan, including the disputed Sir Creek, north of Porbandar, CG sources said.
Minister of State for Defence Pallam Raju will formally declare the CG Air Enclave operational in the presence of CG Director General Vice Admiral RF Contractor.
To function under the direct operational control of the Porbandar CG District Commander, the Air Enclave would operate, for now, a Dornier fixed wing aircraft and a Chetak helicopter.
The strength of the CG air fleet in the Air Enclave would be enhanced later, senior officers in the CG said. The aircraft and the chopper are capable of performing search and rescue (SAR) operation, which is one of the primary duties of the CG.
"The aircraft will be deployed in the Indian Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) with a view to carrying out the duties as mandated in the CG Charter," the officers said.
Ensuring prompt air-sea coordinated patrol, the commissioning of the Porbandar Air Enclave would also enhance and meet the long-felt need for air surveillance of the EEZ, as well as SAR and Medical Evacuation (MEDEVAC) missions in the Gulf of Kutch region and waters adjoining the coast of Gujarat, CG sources said.
The CG has two air stations - one in Chennai in the east coast and the other at Daman on the west coast - that normally had a larger fleet of aircraft and helicopters than the Air Enclaves.
The CG's air assets have grown considerably over the years, since it got its first Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL) built Chetak helicopter in 1982. At present, the CG has a fleet of 17 Chetaks, 24 Dornier-228, and 4 'Dhruv' Advanced Light Helicopters (ALHs).
"The CG now has the capabilities to lauch air efforts from the west coast to the far eastern maritime frontiers of India," the officials said.
To strengthen the air capabilities, the CG is in the process of procuring and inducting six Multi Mission Maritime Aircraft (MMMA), which would augment the existing fleet of Dornier-228 aircraft in the near future, as envisaged in the CG's Perspective Plan.
The CG's aviation arm undertakes coordinated operations in support of its surface assets towards protection of the vast EEZ, extend assistance to fishermen and mariners in distress, preserve and protect marine environment, and assist local authorities during natural calamities.