India under Modi to expand maritime footprint with Mauritian support | Latest News India - Hindustan Times

India under Modi to expand maritime footprint with Mauritian support

Feb 29, 2024 12:45 PM IST

Agalega airstrip and jetty to enhance maritime domain awareness for India and Mauritius

India is going to take a major step in expanding its maritime footprint deep into the Indian Ocean when at 1 o'clock today Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Mauritius Prime Minister Pravind Jugnauth launch the much-awaited Agalega airstrip and a jetty which can dock a warship. The Agalega airstrip, as well as the jetty, will not only provide maritime domain awareness to both Mauritius and India but also allow operational turnaround for Indian Navy warships while on missions of the Eastern Seaboard of Africa as well as the South West Indian Ocean. The airstrip can land a Boeing P-8I multimission aircraft and the jetty can dock either a destroyer or a frigate of the Indian Navy.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Mauritius counterpart Pravind Jugnauth.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Mauritius counterpart Pravind Jugnauth.

The airstrip is 3 km long and can even handle heavy-lift C-17, medium-lift IL-76 and C-130 Hercules, and Boeing P-8I surveillance and anti-submarine warfare.

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It is understood that as many as 50 officers and personnel of the Indian Navy are already stationed at this strategic island with both countries having plans to further augment the manpower strength at the Agalega islands.

India's efforts to strengthen its maritime capabilities extend beyond Agalega. With the establishment of a maritime support base in Duqm port, Oman, and plans to set up an air support facility in north Agalega Islands, India aims to enhance maritime domain awareness and coastal security for friendly nations in the Indian Ocean Region (IOR), particularly in light of China's expanding presence in the area.

Although official details about these developments remain undisclosed, insiders suggest that the Duqm port facility is already operational, offering maintenance, repair, and overhaul services for Indian ships. Similarly, the airstrip in north Agalega islands is set to be operationalized soon, providing vital support to Mauritius' maritime security efforts, including safeguarding its tourism assets.

The decision to establish support facilities in Oman and Mauritius comes amid heightened Chinese naval activities in the Indian Ocean. With the Chinese Navy's Carrier Strike Forces expected to patrol the IOR by 2025-26, there is growing concern among national security planners regarding China's expanding naval presence.

Data from South Block reveals a steady increase in the number of Chinese vessels in the IOR, with surveillance, research, and ballistic missile tracking ships regularly entering the region. This includes recent deployments of PLA Navy ships, satellite tracking vessels, and scientific research ships, highlighting China's sustained interest in the Indian Ocean.

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    Author of Indian Mujahideen: The Enemy Within (2011, Hachette) and Himalayan Face-off: Chinese Assertion and Indian Riposte (2014, Hachette). Awarded K Subrahmanyam Prize for Strategic Studies in 2015 by Manohar Parrikar Institute for Defence Studies and Analyses (MP-IDSA) and the 2011 Ben Gurion Prize by Israel.

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