Navy to procure nine amphibious aircraft

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New Delhi, Feb 6 (PTI) Amid heightened focus on aerialmaritime surveillance, the Navy is planning to induct nineamphibious aircraft to keep a vigil over the Andaman andNicobar and Lakshadweep islands.

"We would use the amphibious aircraft for carrying outsearch and rescue missions, inter-island communication, rapidresponse missions and reconnaissance of islands," a Navyofficial told PTI here.

The process to procure the amphibious aircraft, whichcan take-off and land on either land or water, has alreadybeen initiated with the issuing of a global Request forInformation (RFI) by the Defence Ministry.

Post 26/11 attacks, the Navy and the Coast Guard havetaken various steps to ensure that Pakistan-based terrorgroups such as Lashkar-e-Toiba, or sea pirates don''t use theuninhabited islands to launch attacks against India.

The aircraft would also be used for "inter-island ferryfor personnel and cargo, long-range search and rescuemissions, visual and radar surveillance of coastal areas andisland territories," the official said.

The capability of the amphibious aircraft to land onwater would also help us to carry out casualty evacuationoperations, supply critical spares to units and respondrapidly for humanitarian assistance missions at sea.

The Navy wants an aircraft which should have a shorttake-off capability with a range of at least 800 nauticalmiles so that they can cover a long range, the official said.

Canadian Bombardier and Russian Beriev are expected toreceive the Request for Proposal (RFP), which is expected tobe issued by the Navy soon.

In the recent past, India has enhanced its focus onincreasing aerial vigilance over its huge maritime zone andislands situated there.

In 2009, India signed a deal worth USD 2.1 billion forprocuring eight P-8I long range maritime surveillance aircraftand is also planning to procure new medium range aircraft forthe Coast Guard for reconnaissance and surveillance.

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