Rabu, Februari 10, 2010

India To Boost Island Defenses To Counter China

NEW DELHI - India plans to upgrade weapons and equipment stationed at its bases on the Andaman and Nicobar island chains in the eastern Indian Ocean, a step intended to bolster defenses against China, according to defense officials here.

The Indian Air Force will place multirole Su-30MKI fighter jets on the islands and increase the number of operational airfields. Two airstrips, at Shibpur in the Andamans and at Campbell Bay in the Nicobar Islands, will be converted into all-weather bases that can support fighter operations, a senior Air Force official said.

The military also will station additional mid-air refuelers, and a variety of medium- and short-range UAVs, to keep a watch on the Chinese military base in Myanmar's nearby Coco Islands, sources said. In addition, the military will increase the number of amphibious vessels and Mi-17 combat and transport helicopters stationed in the region.

The Indian Navy also plans to buy assets and network-centric warfare systems to protect what a Navy officer called "India's island territories, which are vulnerable."

The Andaman and Nicobar chains comprise 572 islands. The southernmost islands in the Nicobar archipelago are less than 100 kilometers from Indonesia. In 2001, the Indian military established a joint command in the region to boost its ability to rapidly deploy troops there.

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