Karnataka’s coasts are set for a major security revamp with the Indian Coast Guard (ICG) readying to raise its aviation unit – Coast Guard Aviation Enclave – utilising the old terminal of Mangalore Airport.
Senior ICG officers said the force, which, along with the coastal police has the responsibility of guarding our coasts, will boost its patrolling capabilities. “The Ministry of Defence (MoD) has approved the required land. We are awaiting clearance to acquire the old terminal of Mangalore Airport to raise the unit,” an official said, adding land that is required around the airport and a few other parts of Mangalore has already been identified.
Initially, there will be one or two aircraft in both the fixed wing and rotary categories, the officer said, adding “eventually, we will build the strength and have a full-fledged aviation enclave here.”
Presently, ICG operates vessels capable of operating in deep sea in the coasts of Karnataka, but aerial patrolling will enhance the surveillance abilities of the force.
ICG has 10 operational squadrons under its aviation wing, spread across the country’s coasts with Daman Chennai and Mumbai, having both fixed wing and rotary aircraft operational. (see box).
Besides, for the aviation wing, ICG has in its pipeline, induction of two amphibious hovercrafts or Air Cushion Vehicles (ACVs), which officers said will supplement the aerial patrolling. Amphibious vehicles have been another area that has been lacking in areas like Kochi and Mangalore, although ICG in Kochi boasts of fixed wing aerial capabilities.
He said the ACVs will be stationed in the portion of land ICG has got clearance to acquire in Mangalore. “ICG has the experience of operating such vehicles for around 13 years now. We have it in Gujarat, the Bangladesh border, Rameswaram (Sri Lanka area). It is time we induct these in Mangalore,” the officer said.
With capability to operate in shallow waters as well as on land, besides being able to go deep into sea, the vehicle provides the lacking mobility for the Coast Guard. “We should be able to induct these by the year-end,” he added.