New Dornier Sqn becomes operational on southern coast

Naval Chief Admiral Karambir Singh inspects a parade during the commissioning of fifth Dornier squadron of the Indian Navy-INAS 313 (Indian Naval Air Squadron 313) at the Naval Air Enclave at Meenambakkam, in Chennai, on Monday. PTI

Indian Navy on Monday commissioned a new Dornier squadron in Tamil Nadu in an effort to further expand its footprint over the Indian Ocean region.

The squadron named Indian Naval Air Squadron 313 (Sea Eagle) will operate from Chennai International Airport and fly a dozen of brand new Dornier aircraft, to be manufactured by the Hindustan Aeronautics Ltd.

“The strategic position of the squadron will give India, dominance over the North-Eastern part of the Indian Ocean which also consists of trade routes,” the Navy said in a statement.

From a strategic perspective, India seeks to know a lot more about the cargo movement in the Indian Ocean particularly the volume of traffic transiting through one of the three straits — Malacca, Sunda and Lombok.

“In 2016, approximately 80% of China’s oil imports and 11% of natural gas imports transited the South China Sea and Strait of Malacca. The sheer volume of oil and liquefied natural gas that is imported to China from the Middle East and Africa will continue to make strategic sea lanes of communications important to China,” the Pentagon said in a 2017 report on China.

The Dornier aircraft will have improved sensors and equipment including a glass cockpit, advanced surveillance radar, electronic intelligence, optical sensors and networking features.

“Commissioning of INAS 313 marks yet another milestone in our efforts towards enhancing maritime security and safeguarding our nation’s maritime interests. The developing geopolitical situation in the region needs to be monitored constantly. It is, therefore, necessary to maintain surveillance over the Bay of Bengal, Palk Bay and adjoining regions,” said Navy Chief Admiral Karambir Singh, who was present at the commissioning ceremony.

This would be Indian Navy's fifth Dornier squadron and the third naval aircraft base in the southern state, other two being INS Rajali at Arakkonam and INS Parundu at Ramanathapuram. The Navy operates its most modern P8I surveillance aircraft from Arakkonam whereas INS Parundu is a Dornier base.

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