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Indian Navy to expand presence in Lakshadweep with new air base in Minicoy

04 Mar 2024

Indian Navy to expand presence in Lakshadweep with new air base in Minicoy

Indian Navy will, on Tuesday, commission INS Jatayu, a new air base for the Naval detachment in Minicoy, the southernmost island of Lakshadweep, in order to boost operational capabilities in the Indian Ocean Region.

Defence minister Rajnath Singh and Chief of Naval Staff R Harikumar along with a full flotilla of two aircraft carriers and 15 warships will be present on the occasion, projecting the might of the Indian Navy.

INS Jatayu is the second Naval base in the island territory after INS Dweeprakshak in Kavaratti. 

INS Jatayu will strengthen Indian Navy’s operational capabilities in the Lakshadweep islands with expanded surveillance and reach. It will, in turn, help in capacity building and comprehensive development of the islands.

Minicoy will also have a joint airfield that would be capable of operating fighter jets, military transport planes and commercial aircraft.

The commissioning of INS Jatayu on 6 March, marks an important milestone in the Navy’s expansion in the strategically important IOR.

Set up in 1980, Naval Detachment Minicoy is currently under the operational command of Naval Officer-in-Charge (Lakshadweep). 

The base will bolster Indian Navy’s anti-piracy and anti-narcotics operations in the Arabian Sea by augmenting its capability as the first responder in the region. It will also improve connectivity with the mainland, thereby helping in the comprehensive development of islands.

The move comes after India lost its foothold in Maldives, due to Chinese overtures. The new Naval air base in Minicoy will ensure the Indian Navy’s hold in the Indian Ocean Region.

The Navy will also be commissioning a squadron of MH 60R ‘Romeo’ Naval helicopters to enhance surveillance, search and rescue operations.

The Sikorsky SH-60/MH-60 Seahawk is a twin turboshaft engine, multi-mission helicopter with anti-submarine warfare capabilities.

Part of the 24-aircraft FMS contract that India signed with the US government in February 2020, the commissioning of the Seahawks helicopters will enhance India’s blue-water capabilities. The deployment of Seahawks in the IOR would strengthen the Indian Navy’s presence in this strategically crucial region.

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