Source: DTN News - - This article compiled by Roger Smith from reliable sources TOI
(NSI News Source Info) NEW DELHI, India - October 26, 2010: With terror as well as conventional threats emanating from sea remaining a clear and present danger, India wants to keep hawk-eyed tabs on the entire Indian Ocean Region (IOR). And, if required, "kill" any threat before it approaches Indian shores.
After finalizing the acquisition of 12 P-8I Poseidon long-range maritime reconnaissance (LRMR) aircraft for $3.1 billion, the Navy has now re-launched the hunt for six to eight new medium-range surveillance (MRMR) planes and additional spy drones. The defence ministry floated global RFIs (request for information) for the MRMR aircraft, with an operating range of over 350 nautical miles, and HALE (high-altitude, long-endurance) unmanned aerial vehicles, with a service ceiling above 40,000 feet and endurance over 25 hours, earlier this month. The radar-packed LRMR and MRMR planes, both of which will also be equipped with anti-ship and submarine warfare capabilities in the shape of deadly missiles, as well as the UAVs form part of Navy`s plan for an effective three-tier aerial surveillance grid in the IOR. This comes at a time when the government, jolted out of its slumber by the 26/11 terror strikes in Mumbai, is also going in for a major upgrade of the Coast Guard`s air wing. In addition to the existing 24 Dorniers and 21 helicopters, the government has approved 42 new aircraft for the Coast Guard, which is also holding trials for six MRMR aircraft with Beriev-200 and Bombardier-Q400 being the contenders in the Rs 1,100 crore project. Then, Navy is all set to get its communication and surveillance satellite, with an around 1,000 nautical mile footprint over IOR, in what will be India`s first dedicated military satellite. To be launched by ISRO soon, the geo-stationary satellite will ensure a quantum jump in Navy`s C4ISR (command, control, communication, computer, intelligence, surveillance, reconnaissance) capabilities. By networking all its warships, submarines and aircraft among themselves as well as with operational centres ashore through high-speed data links, the Navy hopes to detect maritime threats in real-time to ensure swift retaliatory action. This is necessary since India has a vast 5,422-km coastline, 1,197 islands and 2.01 million sq km of Exclusive Economic Zone, which will increase to around 3 million sq km after the delineation of the continental shelf, apart from its primary area of strategic interest stretching from Persian Gulf to Malacca Strait. As was first reported by TOI, the defence ministry recently cleared the acquisition of four more P-8I Poseidon aircraft, which will add to the eight such LRMR planes already contracted from Boeing under the $2.1 billion deal inked in January 2009. The first P-8I is slated for induction in early-2013. Incidentally, the MRMR procurement process had also begun some years ago but it got derailed due to a single-vendor situation. The naval staff qualitative requirements for the MRMR planes are now being drafted afresh.
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