NEW DELHI: With the aim to boost maritime security, the Indian Navy wants complete control over the Gujarat-based Porbandar airport.
Recognising air power as an integral part of maritime military strategy, the Indian Navy is looking for greater control over the strategically located Porbandar airport to enhance surveillance by maritime reconnaissance aircraft and UAVs.
In this connection, navy chief Admiral R K Dhowan on Wednesday met top officials of the Civil aviation ministry to push for the navy’s demand. Sources indicated the civil aviation authorities will agree to the demand. Aviation officials claim that since Porbandar is a small airport and not much commercial flight operate from there, they don’t see any major loss of revenue if they agree to the navy’s demand.
In fact, officials claim to keep a watch on The Strait of Hormuz, one of the nine important passages that provide access to the Indian Ocean. Indian Navy will have to have a substantial presence in Gujarat. The navy plans to set up its control room at the Porbandar airport for surveillance aircraft operations.
After the 26/11 Mumbai terror attack, various measures were taken to enhance foolproof maritime security cover to India’s coast line.
The Indian Navy has been the lead agency in this regard and is assisted by the Coast Guard and Marine Police.
At the apex level, the National Committee for Strengthening Maritime and Coastal Security (NCSMCS), headed by the Cabinet Secretary coordinates all matters related to Maritime and Coastal Security.
In addition to continuous patrolling by Navy and Coast Guard, modern technical measures have been implemented for coastal surveillance, by way of a chain of 74 Automatic Identification System (AIS) receivers, for gapless cover along the entire coast. This is complemented by a chain of overlapping 46 coastal radars in the coastal areas of our mainland and islands. A second phase of coastal radars is being implemented to plug the small gaps in some places.
Last month, a hub to monitor maritime security was launched in the National Capital Region. The Information Management and Analysis Centre manned by the navy is operating with over 40 Indian radars. Satellites are being fully integrated to provide continuous water feed around India.