Indian Coast Guard seeks new helicopters & rotary UAVs

The Indian Coast Guard (ICG) tripled in strength since 2007 and is expected to grow more as it seeks new helicopters and Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs).

The force is currently aiming to replace its outdated Chetak helicopters with 10-tonne multi-role helicopters, as well as purchase up to 10 rotary Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAV) to operate from its ships, six offshore patrol vessels (OPV), and six C-295 cargo aircraft. All this will be done to enhance its surveillance and rescue operations. One official said that all of these will be procured indigenously through the Make-in-India route.

Indian Coast Guard (ICG) seeks new helicopters & rotary UAVs
ICG to induct 10-tonne multi-role helicopters, as well as purchase up to 10 rotary Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAV) to operate from its ships

“The proposal for six Offshore Patrol Vessels is set to be taken up by the Defence Acquisition Council soon. There is also a proposal for acquiring C-295 transport aircraft.”

–An ICG official

The Tata Group and Airbus are planning to construct the C-295 in India as part of a 56-aircraft contract for the Indian Air Force.

The Coast Guard has seen a major expansion in terms of numbers and capabilities. In 2009, the Coast Guard had 50 ships and 30 aircraft. As of today, it has 159 ships and 77 aircraft. The aircraft include Chetak and ALH helicopters and Dornier surveillance aircraft. 

Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL), which was contracted under a deal in March 2017 for a marine function, delivered the final one of 16 Advanced Light Helicopters (ALH)-MKIII to Director General, ICG, V. S. Pathania last week. On this occasion, a Letter of Intent for nine further ALH-MKIIIs was also released.

Mr Pathania also assessed the domestic Light Utility Helicopter (LUH) as a possible Chetak replacement for maritime duty.

The ICG announced the formation of a group made up of representatives from all interested parties, including HAL, to establish the standards for a maritime single-engine helicopter to replace its Chetak fleet.

“The LUH is designed to operate up to an altitude of 6 km as per the high-altitude requirements of the Army and the Indian Air Force. So the helicopter will have a lot of reserve power at sea level, which is very helpful in operations.”

–Another ICG official
HAL, light utility helicopter
ICG has assessed HAL’s LUH as a possible Chetak replacement for maritime duty

The official stated that the ICG will soon send its requirements to HAL. For the Navy, HAL is already working on a modified version of the LUH.

A multi-role helicopter in the 10-tonne class is also needed by the ICG. For the Armed Forces, HAL is creating the 12-tonne Indian Multi-Role Helicopter (IMRH). According to officials, the Coast Guard and HAL are in discussions to modify the IMRH to satisfy the Coast Guard’s needs.

In addition, the Coast Guard must induct at least ten UAVs (drones), which can be used from mobile platforms, such as ships. These will be rotary drones, to enhance its surveillance and rescue operations. All these will be indigenous. 

ICG must induct at least ten UAVs (drones), which can be used from mobile platforms, such as ships

Additionally, the Coast Guard will soon have access to two pollution control ships and 14 fast patrol boats. 

An official has stated that the fast patrolling boat needed by the Coast Guard will differ from the one the Army has for Pangong Lake in Eastern Ladakh. The coast guard must patrol the sea, while the army must patrol the lake. Because of this, the size and speed of the boat will differ.

All of this will be used by the Coast Guard for monitoring as well as for relief and rescue operations. In order to fulfil its expanding mandate, the ICG, which has tripled in strength over the past 15 years, is expected to grow much more.

(With inputs from The Hindu)

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