The Indian government has sanctioned three new squadrons of Dornier aircraft to boost coastal surveillance in a bid to provide better intelligence to prevent terrorist and other threats from the sea, an official statement said Friday.
The new squadrons are to be set up in Gujarat and Tamil Nadu and will augment existing Dornier squadrons in Kerala and the Andaman Islands, the statement said, adding that the government had also sanctioned an increase in the manpower required for the manning of these additional aircraft.
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 sea,” the statement said. “This addition would further strengthen Indian Navy’s efforts at coastal security of India’s vast coastline of over 7,000 kilometres.”
Maritime surveillance has been accorded high priority after the 2008 Mumbai terrorist attack given that the 10 terrorists who targeted India’s financial capital and held the city to ransom for 60 hours came by sea from Pakistan’s port city of Karachi. One hundred and sixty-six people were killed in the siege that began on 26 November and ended on 29 November 2008.
The contract for procurement of 12 Dornier aircraft was signed with Hindustan Aeronautics Limited in December 2016 with delivery to start in January this year.
“This is a substantial contract for the indigenous HAL built maritime surveillance version of the Dornier 228 aircraft,” the statement said.