With the Indian Navy chief admiral Nirmal Verma formally opening INS Baaz, India's southernmost naval air station yesterday, at Cambell Bay in Andaman and Nicobar Islands, India has gained increased ability to mount hawk-like vigil on the vital maritime channel of the Strait of Malacca.
He described INS Baaz as being ''blessed with a brilliant strategic location'', adding that the location at Cambell Bay, overlooking the Strait of Malacca dominating the 6 degree channel would provide it an eagle's eye view over the crucial waterways.
According to the naval chief, one of the primary functions of INS Baaz would be to provide information, based on 'airborne' maritime surveillance. ''Maritime domain awareness is the key to effective and informed decision making in the maritime arena. Despite numerous advancements in the field of information gathering over sea, airborne surveillance, using aircraft and UAVs, remains invaluable,'' he said.
He added, the commissioning of the naval air station at Campbell Bay was a ''small but significant step'' towards supplementing India's maritime capability in the islands of the Andaman and Nicobar group which offered a vital geo-strategic advantage to India.
He added the economic potential of Andaman and Nicobar islands was remarkable as these were endowed with a vast exclusive economic zone (EEZ), that accounted for around 30 per cent of India's entire EEZ.
''These islands also sit astride some of the busiest shipping lanes of the Indian Ocean, most carrying strategic cargo for the East Asian economies,'' he said.