Indian Navy commissioned its sixth utility Dornier aircraft squadron INAS (Indian Naval Air Squadron) 314 – Raptors on Friday over an impressive ceremony hosted at Naval Air Enclave, Porbandar city of Gujarat.

Vice Admiral MS Pawar, AVSM, VSM, Deputy Chief of Naval Staff was the Chief Guest who graced the commissioning occasion. INAS 314 derives its name “Raptors” from the “Bird of Prey” family. The insignia of the squadron depicts a ‘Raptor bird’ searching over the vast blue expanse of the sea. ‘Raptors’ are large birds of prey known for excellent sensory capabilities, powerful and sharp talons and strong wings symbolising the capabilities of the aircraft and envisaged roles of the Sqn, as a whole.

The squadron will operate the Dornier aircraft, a multi-role SRMR (Search and Maritime Reconnaissance) aircraft, with twin turboprop engine manufactured by Hindustan Aeronautical Ltd (HAL) Kanpur.

The aircraft will be used for electronic warfare missions, maritime surveillance, search and rescue and to provide targeting data to weapon platform. Contributing towards indigenous development and self-reliance through ‘Make in India’, Navy is procuring 12 new Dornier aircraft from HAL with state-of-the-art sensors and equipment including a glass cockpit, advanced surveillance radar, ELINT, optical sensors and networking features.

The squadron is the first to accept and operate four of these newly inducted technology advanced next-generation Dornier aircraft. Whilst addressing at the ceremony, Vice Admiral MS Pawar Deputy Chief of Naval Staff said, “Commissioning of Indian Naval Air Squadron (INAS) 314 marks yet another milestone in our efforts towards enhancing maritime security and our surveillance footprint in the North Arabian Sea.”

The squadron owing to its strategic location will act as the first responder for the crucial region. INAS 314 is commanded by Captain Sandeep Rai, an accomplished and highly experienced Dornier Qualified Navigation Instructor.

(The writer is a Delhi-based independent contributor to print and online publications)