New Delhi, July 30 :India is set to complete it vigilance over the vast expanse of Indian Ocean with the commissioning of its hawk’eye, INS Baaz in the southern fringe of the Nicobar Island at Campbell Bay by the naval chief Admiral Nirmal Verma on Tuesday.
In April this year, the Indian Navy upgraded its post, INS Dweeprakshak at Kavaratti island of Lakshadweep to a full-fledged base. Now both INS Dweeprakshak and INS Baaz will act as right and left eye of vigilance over the entire Indian Ocean.
The Campbell Bay station is rightly named INS Baaz meaning hawk’s eye to keep a vigil over the world’s second busiest sea lane of communication (SLOC), Strait of Malacca.
It assumes added significance after the US Defence Secretary Leon Panetta expressed last month in New Delhi and in Singapore the intention of his country’s military “re-balancing” in the Asia-Pacific region with 60% of its naval assets.
According to sources, the INS Baaz include an upgraded air base which will soon be operating heavier military planes from the Indian Air Force fleet like the recently inducted Hercules C-130J Super Hercules meant for special forces’ operations. Spread over nearly 70 hectares, INS Baaz will eventually be capable of turning around all kind of fighter and transport-troop carrier aircraft.
INS Baaz will have a 3,000 ft runway which is likely to be extended to handle airlifters like the IL-76 and the larger Globemaster III that the IAF has contracted.
Last month, a Hercules C-130 aircraft flew non-stop for 10 hours from the base at Hindon, east of Delhi, to Campbell Bay as a trial sortie.
The naval and air base Shibpur at Diglipur on the northern tip of the Andamans is slated to be upgraded.
Already India operates naval bases at Port Blair and Car Nicobar in the Andaman and Nicobar Islands. It also has at least three air strips at Diglipur in the north Andamans, Port Blair and Car Nicobar.
The new INS Baaz base will significantly increase India’s strategic reach in the region, considering that Campbell Bay is about 300 nautical miles south of Car Nicobar, till now the navy’s major forward operating base in the area.
Spread over nearly 70 hectares, INS Baaz will eventually be capable of turning around all kind of fighter and transport-troop carrier aircraft.
INS Baaz is astride the six-degree channel between Nicobar Islands and the coast of Aceh in Indonesia that is known to sailors around the world as the mouth of the Straits of Malacca. The strait connects the Indian and Pacific Oceans and the economies of China, Japan, South Korea, Indonesia, Malaysia and Singapore.