New Delhi: Amid heightened focus on aerial maritime surveillance, the Navy is planning to induct nine amphibious aircraft to keep a vigil over the Andaman and Nicobar and Lakshadweep islands.
"We would use the amphibious aircraft for carrying out search and rescue missions, inter-island communication, rapid response missions and reconnaissance of islands," a Navy official told a news agency here.
The process to procure the amphibious aircraft, which can take-off and land on either land or water, has already been initiated with the issuing of a global Request for Information (RFI) by the Defence Ministry.
Post 26/11 attacks, the Navy and the Coast Guard have taken various steps to ensure that Pakistan-based terror groups such as Lashkar-e-Toiba, or sea pirates don`t use the uninhabited islands to launch attacks against India.
The aircraft would also be used for "inter-island ferry for personnel and cargo, long-range search and rescue missions, visual and radar surveillance of coastal areas and island territories," the official said.
The capability of the amphibious aircraft to land on water would also help us to carry out casualty evacuation operations, supply critical spares to units and respond rapidly for humanitarian assistance missions at sea.
The Navy wants an aircraft which should have a short take-off capability with a range of at least 800 nautical miles so that they can cover a long range, the official said.
Canadian Bombardier and Russian Beriev are expected to receive the Request for Proposal (RFP), which is expected to be issued by the Navy soon.
In the recent past, India has enhanced its focus on increasing aerial vigilance over its huge maritime zone and islands situated there.
In 2009, India signed a deal worth USD 2.1 billion for procuring eight P-8I long range maritime surveillance aircraft and is also planning to procure new medium range aircraft for the Coast Guard for reconnaissance and surveillance.