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Andaman Seeks Drones For Surveillance Of Tropical Archipelago

Map of Andamans and Nicobar Islands, Asia. Copyright
by Staff Writers
Port Blair (AFP) Sep 24, 2006
India's coast guard said Sunday it plans to import air drones to help keep tabs on the remote and far-flung Andamans archipelago in the Indian Ocean. Coast Guard chief Vice Admiral R.F Contractor said the unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) would be deployed to oversee the 550-odd islands of the tropical paradise, home to five stone-age aboriginal tribes who shun civilisation.

"We are planning to acquire three for time being and these UAVs would be deployed in different regions according to our need," said the admiral, speaking in the provincial capital Port Blair. He gave no further details.

India imports drones from Israel and Britain and is talking with the US about possible UAV purchases. India also produces its own Nishant drones, which have a range of 100 kilometres (62 miles).

The Andamans are home to a strategic military base which includes long-range war jets and naval ships.

But the archipelago's 1,200-kilometre (744-mile) distance from mainland India and 800-kilometre span in the Indian Ocean makes patrols expensive and time consuming.

India's locally-built Nishant drones have a maximum range of 100 kilometres (62 miles), making them useless for inter-island surveillance, military experts say.

Source: Agence France-Presse

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