The Indian Coast Guard (ICG) has embarked on an ambitious modernisation project to enhance operational capabilities of air operations. The ICG placed orders for 10 multi-copter drones with advanced technology for ship and shore launch capabilities and signed contracts for the aging midlife upgrades of 17 Dornier aircraft with state-of-the-art systems and sensors.
A senior ICG official told the Free Press Journal that procurement of additional 100 drones is expected by 2025, besides multi-mission maritime surveillance aircraft and twin-engine helicopters, which are envisaged to bolster the ICG’s operational capability.
The upgrade of navigation aids and infrastructure includes modernising its airfields under the ‘Modernisation of AirField Infrastructure (MAFI)’ project, with installation and commissioning of modern airfield equipment like Doppler Very High-Frequency Omni Range (DVOR), High Power Distance Measuring Equipment (HP-DME) and Air Traffic Management System (ATMS) for enhanced air operations in poor visibility and adverse weather conditions while improving aeronautical safety.
The ICG acquired six new ships built in Indian shipyards and four air squadrons of 16 Advanced Light Helicopters, even as 21 more ships including two pollution control vessels are under construction in India for frontline marine pollution combat.
“Being the Central coordinating authority for oil spill response in the Indian Exclusive Economic Zone, the ICG ensured no major oil spill incidents in Indian waters in 2022,” claimed the Western Command official.
ICG vessels took active pollution response and prevention measures when MV Princess Miral ran aground off New Mangalore, Karnataka, MT Global King-1 off Porbandar, Gujarat and MT Parth at Ratnagiri in Maharashtra last year.
The ICG, as per data, has saved over 11,881 lives since its inception in 1977 and rescued 279 lives in 2022, besides seizures of contraband of Rs3,260 crore in three operations last year. The enhanced patrolling and sharing of intelligence had led to seizures of illicit weapons and drugs worth Rs2,924 crore with the interception of Pakistani vessel Al Soheli with 40kg of heroine, six pistols, 12 magazines and 120 live ammunition near Okha.
The ICG, with a modest beginning of seven vessels in 1978, has grown manifold into a formidable force with 158 ships, 78 aircraft and a target of 200 ships and 80 aircraft in 2025.
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