Chennai: The Indian Navy is all set to operate a small section of unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) from the naval air station at Uchipuli on the south eastern coast of Tamil Nadu. The move is expected to enhance the Navy's surveillance capability along the coast and the sea around the southern peninsula.
The Navy commissioned its first UAV squadron at Kochi two and half years ago.
Naval officials said that the move was an "imperative," keeping in mind the prolonged war being actively engaged between Sri Lanka and the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam.
Uchipuli was finalised as an air station after recent visits of vice admiral Raman Prem Suthan, vice chief of naval staff, vice-admiral Nirmal Kumar Verma, flag officer commanding-in-chief, eastern naval command, and commodore Phillip Van Haltren, naval officer-in-charge, Tamil Nadu, to the air station.
According to officials, at least two Israeli-built UAVs based at the Indian naval air squadron at Kochi might be operated from the air station at Uchipuli, which is likely to be upgraded as a regular commissioned air station. Its present 3,000-foot runway will be enlarged to 6,000 ft, keeping in mind future requirements.
It is also proposed to acquire 343 acres around the airfield to facilitate expansion.
"We will be in a position to station UAVs and operate them round the clock within a year," commander P Rajkumar, station commander, naval air station, Uchipuli, told the media.