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Coast Guard to acquire 16 advanced light helicopters

CHENNAI: Indian Coast Guard aims to expand its aircraft inventory by acquiring 16 advanced light helicopters and 50 vessels.

This is part of its agenda to have 200 ships and 100 aircraft by 2025. At present, there are 145 ships and 62 aircrafts, Coast Guard Director-General Krishnaswamy Natarajan told reporters on the sidelines of the 19th India-Japan Coast Guard Exercise, on Thursday. 

“Today, we have 50 ships under construction in various Indian shipyards and apart from that we have 16 advanced light helicopter MKIII under production with HAL, Bengaluru,” he said. 

In 2019,  Coast Guard apprehended around Rs 2,000 crore worth of drugs with most of them from the Western Coast, he said. The first of the twin-engine helicopter is expected to be put into operations by March 2020, he said adding that 14 more similar helicopters and six multi-mission maritime aircraft, which will have a capability of maintaining surveillance in our exclusive economic zone, will be acquired later. 

On the joint exercise between India and Japan, which happened nearly 50 nautical miles off Chennai’s coast, he said this has further strengthened the ties between the two nations. 

Japan Coast Guard Commandant Admiral Takahiro Okushima said the relationship between the two coast guards was getting stronger every year. One ship of Japanese Coast Guard and four ships and an aircraft of Indian Coast Guard took part in the exercise.

It was led by Commanding Officer Captain Kiyoshi Harada, who was on board the ‘Echigo PLH08’. The exercise marked demonstration of search and rescue, anti-piracy, external fire-fighting and sharing of best practices.