As the Indian Navy wraps up the International Fleet Review 2016 at Vizag, the Indian Coast Guard (ICG) is all set to ramp up its surveillance, search and rescue (SAR) capabilities with the addition of 38 aircraft and helicopters to secure the Indian coastline from any untoward incidents.
As part of the Coast Guard's expansion plans, the induction of these aircraft will take place by 2020. The present fleet of 62 aircraft and helicopters will be bolstered with the addition of Advanced Light Helicopters (ALH), Twin-engine Helicopters and Maritime Multi-mission Surveillance Aircraft (MMSA), Press Trust of India reported on February 8.
The Coast Guard is in the process of procuring 16 ALHs and is expected to sign a contract with the Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL) in the next three to four months. According to the report, the domestic maritime force is also planning to purchase 14 twin-engine heavy helicopters and may contemplate Airbus's Eurocopter for the purpose. However, this proposal is still pending with the Ministry of Defence.
"We have been looking to procure twin-engine helicopters that can help in making long trips in the sea. The current Chetak helicopters do not have the ability to go deep over the sea. The twin-engine helicopters can make longer trips," a senior government official said.
The air component is an essential feature in the maritime forces as they can intercept enemy and suspicious boats faster than the ships at sea.