The central government has given a green signal for sanctioning three new squadrons of the Dornier aircraft with the objective of improving coastal surveillance. The move will provide better intelligence to prevent terrorist attacks such as 26/11 and other potential threats from the sea.
Financial daily Mint has reported that the new squadrons will be established in Gujarat and Tamil Nadu which will enhance the existing Dornier squadrons in Kerala and Andaman Islands. Moreover, the government has also increased the manpower required for manning these aircraft.
The statement said that the additional squadrons would help India "through round the clock sensor based surveillance and provide targeting data in areas of operation to ward off terror and other threats from the sea. This addition would further strengthen Indian Navy's efforts at coastal security of India's vast coastline of over 7,000 kilometers."
The Dornier Do 228 is a twin-turboprop utility aircraft manufactured by a German company. In 1983, Hindustan Aeronautics had bought the production license and manufactured 125 aircraft in its facility at Kanpur.
Maritime surveillance has been one of the major priorities after the 2008 Mumbai attacks where 10 terrorists entered the city from the port city of Karachi in Pakistan and created mayhem for almost 60 hours, killing 166 people, which heightened the tension between two nuclear-armed states in South Asia.
Dornier's maritime surveillance and patrolling variants have been modified by HAL to cater to larger demand by the Navy, including surveillance radar, forward-looking infrared, electronic support measure, satellite communications, data links and Traffic Collision Avoidance System (TCAS) among other things.
The Indian Navy had signed a contract with the Hindustan Aeronautics Limited in December 2016 for the procurement of 12 Dornier aircraft which was scheduled to be delivered by January this year.