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Navy mulls utilisation of UAVs in Bengal

Navy sources said the force has been discussing the possible deployment of the UAVs for a while and an area prioritization survey is also afoot. It is learnt that if implemented, a UAV squadron may be based out of the Behala Flying Club in the city

Soumyadip Mullick | Kolkata |

The Indian Navy is mulling plans surrounding the utilization of unmanned aerial vehicles(UAVs) in Bengal and a detailed map to select priority areas where it needs to be deployed, is being prepared.

Addressing a Press conference at INS Netaji Subhas ahead of Navy Day on 4 December, Commodore Rituraj Sahu, naval officer in charge(NOIC), West Bengal, commenting on navy’s possible plans of utilizing UAVs, said, “This is a prospective project which is under consideration by the naval headquarters. At the moment there is no concrete decision on the matter.” He added that the project is probably in the pipeline and may take shape soon.

Navy sources said the force has been discussing the possible deployment of the UAVs for a while and an area prioritization survey is also afoot. It is learnt that if implemented, a UAV squadron may be based out of the Behala Flying Club in the city. Sources further said that plans were earlier afoot to use UAVs in and around the Sundarbans region that lies on the delta of the Ganges, Brahmaputra and Meghna rivers on the Bay of Bengal. Due to its close proximity to the Indo-Bangladesh border, it is extremely vulnerable to illegal immigration and smuggling of arms and narcotics. However, the thick tree cover in the area makes it nearly impossible for surveillance using UAVs.

The Indian Navy at present is looking ahead to procure UAVs to add teeth to its surveillance operations in the Indian Ocean Region (IOR). Commodore Sahu, commenting on possible activities by the Chinese navy in the IOR, said that the Indian Navy is geographically well placed in the IOR where it is maintaining strict surveillance and presently there have been no reports of intrusion. He emphasized that the navy is concentrating on capacity and capability building through the use of technology and indigenization.

Further, to mark the Navy Day, a naval ship INS Kirch-a missile corvette- will dock at Kidderpore. However, the fear surrounding the outbreak of the new Covid variant, Omicron, has left the naval administration at INS Netaji Subhas, worried.

A navy officer said, unlike previous years where school students and civilians interested in the navy visited our ships that docked at the Kolkata Port, this time it is not possible since “we have to be extremely cautious about footfall.” “We can’t take chances. If infection breaks out in the ship then it will affect the entire operation carried out by the naval ship which is in active service.” said the naval officer.