The Indian Coast Guard (ICG) is all set to induct 16 Advanced Light Helicopters (ALH), this July, out of which, the first two are expected to be inducted for the North East (NE) Region for patrolling over North Bay of Bengal. The director general (DG) of the ICG is to visit the NE Region headquarters in Kolkata on Tuesday to review the coastal security network Phase II operations in the region.

According to a senior ICG official, “The ICG has long been waiting to induct the ALH for its patrolling operations. These helicopters are finally going to be inducted into the force, this July. Out of these 16 ALH, a total of four helicopters will be inducted for the North East Region of the ICG that includes Kolkata and Bhubaneshwar. Two of the helicopters will either be based out of Kolkata or Bhubaneshwar, depending on the availability of space. However, these two ALHs that will be inducted into the NE Region, will help in patrolling the North Bay of Bengal region.”

It is learnt that the ICG had already laid out its plan for capacity augmentation concerning its assets. The Advanced Light Helicopters will be delivered to the Coast Guard by the Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL). The move by the ICG is in the light of strengthening its patrolling operations along the country’s coastline since the force is responsible for coastal security that includes enforcing country’s maritime law with jurisdiction over the territorial waters of India including its contiguous zone and the Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ).

The official further highlighted: “The ICG has also planned to get its Dornier aircraft upgraded. The ICG has a total of 36 Dornier aircraft. In the NE Region, there are three Dornier aircraft stationed at Kolkata airport while three more are in the Bhubaneshwar airport. These aircraft are approximately six to eight years old. Though they are advanced aircraft, they need upgradation in terms of avionics which include fitting of LED display. However, all of them cannot be sent to HAL at the same time as that will affect the patrolling operations. The Dorniers will be upgraded in turns when they go for a major servicing after every 12 months of flying.”

Talking on security measures taken in NE Region post Balakot incident, sources in the ICG claimed, “Post-Balakot incident, for the last one month, there is a high alert warning prevailing due to which the our operations have been heightened, using both our sea and air assets. Though we maintain a good relation with Bangladesh and conduct exercise with their Coast Guard arm, there is always a chance of rogue elements and non-state actors infiltrating to our side. However, the river routes are more risk prone than the seas.”

It is further learnt that the Director General of the ICG, Rajendra Singh, will be visiting the North-East Region headquarters at Kolkata, tomorrow, to review the Phase II coastal security network operations in this region. He is also slated to visit the Haldia base of the ICG. It is learnt that the ICG is setting up two new radar stations in the region that will help strenghten its coastal security network. The work has already entered its Phase II status.