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Mixed Bag at Best

Securing India’s vast coastline is no mean task

Mixed Bag at Best Prasun K. Sengupta

The track record in securing India’s vast coastline and island territories post 26/11 has been mixed over the past 33 months. Let’s first start with the good news. Faced with the prospect of combating the increasing incidents of piracy off the Lakshadweep group of islands in the southern Arabian Sea, both the Indian Navy (IN) and the Indian Coast Guard Service (ICGS) recently began a crash programme to upgrade the all-weather maritime surveillance capabilities of their respective coastal maritime patrol aircraft and fast attack craft.

The Navy, early last February, reportedly inked a contract of undisclosed value with Elbit Systems Electro-Optics Ltd (Elop) Ltd. (Elop) for procuring MicroCoMPASS (micro-compact multi-purpose advanced stabilised system) turret-mounted, multi-spectral optronic sensors, which will be fitted on board the 11 HAL-built Do-228-211s now in delivery to the Navy, as well as on all 10 of the 600-tonne
 
waterjet-driven fast attack craft (WJ-FAC) that were built for the Navy by the ministry of defence-owned, Kolkata-based Garden Reach Shipbuilders & Engineers Ltd (GRSE). Also to be equipped with the CoMPASS (compact multi-purpose advanced stabilised system) in future will be the ICGS’ seven 270-tonne extra-fast patrol vessels (XFPV) and twenty 260-tonne fast patrol vessels (FPV), all of which were built by the MoD-owned Goa Shipyard Ltd; the 16 Do-228 maritime patrol aircraft that have already been ordered to add to the 28 now in service; and on the 12 licence-assembled Griffon 8000TD hovercraft that are now in delivery by GRSE.

The ICGS on August 17 awarded a USD 20 million contract to Elbit Systems for supplying DCoMPASS and MicroCoMPASS FLIR systems for these platforms. The MoD had awarded a GBP 34 million contract in late July last year to UK-based

Griffon Hoverwork for the supply of these hovercraft for the ICGS, the tender for which had been released in November 2009. At 21.3 metres in length and with a payload of 8 tonnes, the 8000TD can reach speeds of 45 Knots and is powered by two Iveco diesel engines. The ICGS had earlier acquired six 8000TDs in 2001, two of which were built at Griffon Hoverwork, with the following four being assembled by GRSE.

For coastal maritime patrol/SAR operations, an initial three Do-228-201 twin-turboprop STOL coastal maritime patrol aircraft of the ICGS have each been fitted with the Swedish Space Corp-built MSS-5000M airborne maritime surveillance system, which comprises a side-looking airborne radar (SLAR); an infra-red/ultra-violet (IR/UV) linescanner; high-resolution digital photography camera and a video system. Data from all systems is processed, integrated and presented in one integrated view to the operator. All recordings are annotated with GPS data and digitally stored in an on board geographical database.
 
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