The Indian Coast Guard has proposed to induct 38 more aircraft and helicopters into its fleet by 2020. The CG at present has a fleet strength of 62 airplanes and helicopters. To boost its surveillance and search, and rescue capabilities. In this regard, the maritime security will sign a contract with Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL) to procure 16 Advanced Light Helicopters (ALHs) in the next three – four months.
It is also exploring options to buy 14 twin-engine heavy helicopters. The Coast Guard is eyeing Airbus’s Eurocopeter but it may take a couple of years to actually acquire these as a proposal in this regard is pending with the Ministry of Defense. “We have been looking to procure twin-engine helicopters that can help in making long trips in the sea. The current Chetak helicopters do not have the ability to go deep over the sea. The twin-engine helicopters can make longer trips. “They can be used in areas where we don’t have air strips, for instance, in Minicoy and many such places,” said a senior government official.
The Coast Guard is also looking for 6 more Maritime Multi—mission Surveillance Aircraft. However, CG is waiting for the IAF to be ready with a proposal as it wants to buy the aircraft together. “The Staff Qualitative Requirements (SQRs) of the Coast Guard and Air Force are same. So, we are waiting for their proposal to get ready and then we can buy it together. However, the purpose of the two will be different and modifications to the aircraft will be done as per the requirements of the two forces,” the official said.