Post-Mumbai, Indian Navy envisages three-tier surveillance

January 11th, 2009 - 2:56 pm ICT by IANS  

New Delhi, Jan 11 (IANS) The Indian Navy proposes to buy reconnaissance aircraft, patrol vessels and unmanned aerial vehicles as part of a Rs.160 billion ($3.3 billion) modernisation plan for three-tier surveillance along the coastline, with the Mumbai attacks bringing to the fore the reality of terror via the sea route.”A deal for six LRMR (Long Range Maritime Reconnaissance) aircraft for $2.1 billion has been sealed with the Boeing company. The next in line is a proposal to buy six MRMR (Medium Range Maritime Reconnaissance) aircraft,” a senior navy official told IANS.

“These aircraft will boost the long and medium range surveillance capabilities of the navy. While the Mumbai attack fast-tracked the closure of the LRMR deal, RFPs (request for proposals) have been sent for the MRMR and the response from various players has already been received,” the official said, speaking on condition of anonymity.

The long-range aircraft will form the outermost layer and the medium range planes will comprise the penultimate layer of the surveillance system.

For the innermost layer of the three-tier surveillance system, the navy is procuring two more Israeli Heron UAVs with three ground control stations and two ship control stations for Rs.3.5 billion after successfully deploying eight Searcher-II and four Heron UAVs.

“We may ask for more Heron UAVs later on. Also a joint Indian-Israeli Rs.11.86 billion effort is on for developing non-rotary UAVs for surveillance,” the official added.

The navy has also proposed, in a document submitted to the defence ministry, to buy offshore patrol vessels worth Rs.50 billion. An order has been placed for one such vessel and more are in the offing. The navy will also be shopping for more fleet tankers valued at Rs.10 billion.

“We would also like to increase our reach with three more fleet tankers in addition to the three we have,” the official added.

The navy presented its modernisation proposal during a meeting Defence Minister A.K. Antony called with the three service chiefs following the brazen Mumbai attacks.

As the defence ministry and the three forces began brainstorming post the Mumbai terror attacks, when 10 armed terrorists swept into the city unchecked via the sea and unleashed mayhem in the country’s financial capital, the need to make the coastline impervious to infiltration stood out.

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