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Navy to use UAVs to spy on sea-lanes
Josy Joseph in New Delhi | January 31, 2003 20:38 IST
The navy is inducting unmanned aerial vehicles to keep a watch over the busy sea-lanes in India's territorial waters.
Away from the media glare, the navy last month operationalised its first full-fledged UAV base in Kochi in Kerala, where the Southern Naval Command is based.
Sources said the Israeli Heron UAVs are currently being test-flown and preliminary results have been 'satisfactory'.
Four Heron crafts were ordered from Israel. Two of them are already operational.
A new hangar, antennas and sophisticated radar systems have been put in place for the UAVs, which can fly for several hours at a stretch.
The UAVs would provide the navy real-time view of the busy sea-lanes from the northern Arabian sea to the Malacca Straits.
"We are working towards coordinating the UAV inputs and our rapid response," a senior naval officer said. The navy will also mount UAV control stations in select ships for faster coordination and response, the sources said.
The Herons can fly over and across Sri Lanka and "will help in not only monitoring the sea-lanes, but also in checking drug and arms smuggling and poaching," the sources added.
The navy plans to induct at least a dozen Israeli UAVs and set up UAV bases in Port Blair and Lakshwadeep islands as well.
In fact, a full-fledged base in the Andaman islands to monitor the Chinese movements in the seas is also being planned.
China has, during the last decade, shown increasing eagerness to be present in the Andamans. It has eavesdropping equipment permanently placed in the Coco Islands.