UAS Proving Their Worth on Large Scale Maritime Security Exercise in Southern India

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INAS No 342 'Flying Sentinels' - the first UAV squadron of the Indian Navy
INAS No 342 ‘Flying Sentinels’ – the first UAV squadron of the Indian Navy

The efficacy of unmanned aerial vehicles (UAV) as an early warning mechanism against enemy sneaking in aboard hijacked or rogue vessels was demonstrated during Exercise Gemini-2, the second edition of integrated coastal defence drill for Kerala and Lakshadweep in India. i-hls reports.

According to the Hindu the Israel aerospace industries (IAI) Heron and Searcher UAVs of the Navy’s air squadron No. 342 based at the Southern Naval Command in Kochi took to the skies relentlessly, picking out at least a few suspect vessels on each flight and alerting the defense forces to the threat.

“They proved quite useful in searching for rogue boats, which made it easy for us to instruct interceptor boats on patrol to check them out,” said a Navy officer. “Given the flight safety restrictions imposed by commercial aviation, they couldn’t be flown at high altitudes. But they did a good job,” he said.

While the highs and lows of the drill, conducted periodically to review security mechanism, can only be found out after a thorough debriefing, Gemini-2 showcased the near-impenetrability of the region’s coastal security, characterized by a robust network of static coastal sensors, surveillance data relayed by the UAVs and Dornier maritime reconnaissance aircraft, helicopters on watch, Navy, Coast Guard and Marine police.

INAS 342 ‘Flying Sentinels’ was the The first Indian Naval Air Squadron equipped with UAVs. UAVs were inducted into the Indian Navy in 2003 at INS Garuda and the squadron was formally commissioned as an operational unit in 2006 flying Heron and Searcher MK II UAVs. The Indian Navy was one of the first to operate unmanned aerial vehicles.

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Chief of the Naval Staff Admiral Arun Prakash (centre), Flag Officer Commanding-in-Chief of the Command Vice-Admiral S.C.S. Bangara (right) in front of a new IAI Heron UAV at the Southern Naval Command, Kochi. Photo: Vipin Chandra, The Hindu
Chief of the Naval Staff Admiral Arun Prakash (centre), Flag Officer Commanding-in-Chief of the Command Vice-Admiral S.C.S. Bangara (right) in front of a new IAI Heron UAV at the Southern Naval Command, Kochi. Photo: Vipin Chandra, The Hindu