In order to step-up surveillance and reconnaissance in the Gulf of Mannar, Palk Strait and Palk Bay, Indian Navy is deploying a third squadron of Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV) in Tamil Nadu. The new UAV squadron ‘INAS 344’ will be operated from INS Parundu, the naval air station in Uchipuli, Tamil Nadu. The UAV squadron, to be commissioned tomorrow, will heighten the joint defence capability of the three Armed Forces in the region by synergizing their capabilities.
According to Captain A B Bellary, Commanding Officer, INS Parundu, the UAV squadron ‘INAS 344’ would comprise of four units of two Israeli-built Searcher and Heron UAVs. The team would consist of 50 sailors and 12 officers. The infrastructure for the operation of the UAV squadron has been created and the commissioning will be done by Vice Admiral Anil Chopra, Flag Officer Commanding-in-Chief, and Eastern Naval Command tomorrow. The UAVs in the latest squadron will be able to beam real time live pictures of maritime targets and greatly enhance surveillance in the region.
The naval air stations in the southern peninsula of India have been in need of a UAV squadron for a while. The Indian Navy had earlier stated that as part of its modernization drive, a UAV squadron in the Naval Air Station in Tamil Nadu would come up. The Indian Navy has two naval air stations in the Tamil Nadu state called INS Rajali at Arakkonam and INS Parundu at Uchipuli.
The Indian Navy uses UAVs for surveillance, reconnaissance, target acquisition and damage assessment during exercises and operational deployments. The third and latest squadron will operate aircraft with advanced sensors, long endurance and ability to provide stand-off surveillance. It will be controlled by Eastern Naval Command and is located at INS Parundu, the naval station in Tamil Nadu. While the infrastructure has been put in place, the professionals operating the UAV will undergo training to maximize operational proficiency.
The current UAV squadron INAS 344 in Tamil Nadu will be the Navy’s third UAV squadron. The other UAV squadrons are based at Kochi in Kerala and Porbandar in Gujarat. The 2nd UAV squadron in Porbandar, Gujarat came up in January 2011. It comprises of four units of two Israeli-made Searcher and Heron UAVs. This unit aids coastal surveillance in the Arabian Sea along the coast of Gujarat. A similar squadron was commissioned by Navy at its base in Kochi in 2009.