Navy Chief Admiral Sunil Lanba is set to commission (Indian Naval Station) INS Kohassa on Thursday at Diglipur on North Andaman.
A runway strip has been upgraded and converted into a full-fledged airbase in the northern part of the Andaman and Nicobar Islands and it has been named INS Kohassa. Indian Navy will have full command over the new airbase, which will play an important role in strengthening the monitoring capabilities of Indian Navy in this part of the Indian Ocean. It is noted that this region of Indian Ocean is very critical because it has been witnessing a lot of muscle-flexing by China.
It is to be noted that the location had earlier been the site of (Naval Air Station) NAS Shibpur, which had been used as a waystation for Dornier aircraft and Chetak helicopters.
Established in 2001, NAS Shibpur had been used by Dornier aircraft and Chetak helicopters to conduct surveillance and monitoring operations in the North Andaman Islands region.
The Indian Navy decided to set-up a full-fledged naval airbase in this region because all the three existing airbases are far away from the North Andaman Islands. The new and extended runway will also help play an important role in improving domestic air connectivity under the Udaan scheme launched by Narendra Modi-led government at the Centre.
Located in the region close to the opening of the Straits of Malacca, INS Kohassa is just 90 km from Indonesia, 45 km from Myanmar and 550 km from Thailand. It is interesting to note that around 80 percent of all cargo going to and from China passes through the Malacca.
China, historically never a naval power worth mention, has identified the Malacca Strait as a pressure point against it, and has stepped up its presence in the Indian Ocean Region. So, India is increasingly using its military presence on the Andaman and Nicobar Islands to monitor China's naval activity.