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Updated January 9th, 2024 at 18:42 IST

How India Plans to Use Minicoy Airfield For Military Presence in Arabian Sea | EXPLAINED

India's strategic plan for a joint airfield at Minicoy aimed to enhance military, surveillance, and tourism, elevating its regional significance.

Reported by: Digital Desk
An Indian Navy Dornier Do-228 in flight around Lakshadeep.
An Indian Navy Dornier Do-228 in flight around Lakshadeep. | Image:X
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Agatti, Lakshadweep: India is strategically planning to enhance its military and surveillance capabilities by developing a new airfield at Minicoy Islands in the Lakshadweep archipelago. According to an ANI report, this ambitious project aims to establish a joint-use defence airfield capable of operating not only commercial aircraft but also accommodating military operations, including fighter jets and transport planes.

Dornier aircraft ahead of its Night flight in Agatti, Lakshadeep. | Image: X

"The plan is to have a joint airfield that would be capable of operating fighter jets, military transport planes, and commercial aircraft," government sources said.

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Strengthening Military Presence and Surveillance in the Arabian Sea

Government sources revealed that the proposed airfield, although previously considered, has now gained momentum, with active progression in recent times. The primary focus lies in its potential to strengthen India's military presence and vigilance in the Arabian Sea and the larger Indian Ocean region.

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Dornier Do228 on Agatti's Tarmac. | Image: X
Dornier Do228 on Agatti's Tarmac. | Image: X

From a military standpoint, the airfield's strategic location holds value as it is anticipated to serve as a base enabling India to conduct extensive surveillance activities, thus augmenting its monitoring capabilities across the Arabian Sea. Additionally, the proposed airfield's operationalization under the Indian Air Force should fortify India's aerial dominance in the region and augment both surveillance as well as maritime patrolling via its aerial assets.

Current Limitations and Potential Expansion

According to reports, both the Indian Coast Guard (ICG) and the Navy conduct surveillance and maritime patrolling operations in the Arabian Sea theatre using the current Agatti airport. However, due to its size and lack of infrastructure to support larger scale operations, most of the operations performed by the security forces have been limited. Among the aircraft operated from Agatti are HAL’s Dornier DO 228 aircraft equipped with more modern Synthetic Aperture Ku band Radar.

HAL Dornier aircraft of Indian Navy. | Image: Indian Navy
HAL Dornier aircraft of Indian Navy. | Image: Indian Navy

The initiation of this project originated from recommendations by the Indian Coast Guard, illustrating the maritime security benefits that could be reaped from such a development. The envisaged airfield expansion further aligns with India's objectives of reinforcing its presence and surveillance infrastructure in key maritime territories.

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Dual Objectives: Military Advancement and Tourism Boost

In addition to all of the above, the proposed airfield holds the promise of not only military advancement but also boosting tourism in the region. While the development aims to cater to national security needs, it is also part of the government's plan to promote tourism in the Lakshadweep islands.

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View of Agatti Airport. | Image: X
View of Agatti Airport. | Image: X

This renewed focus on Minicoy's airfield expansion follows Prime Minister Narendra Modi's recent visit to Lakshadweep. However, amidst these strategic plans, criticisms from certain quarters, particularly politicians in the Maldives' ruling party, have emerged, questioning India's efforts to promote Lakshadweep as a tourist destination.

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Published January 9th, 2024 at 15:38 IST

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