The Indian Navy has commissioned Indian Naval Air Squadron 313, the fifth Dornier maritime patrol aircraft squadron, at a ceremony on July 22, local news reports
. The squadron will operate from Chennai International Airport. The squadron will operate Dornier multi-role short range maritime reconnaissance aircraft in a range of missions including maritime surveillance, search and rescue operations and providing targeting data to weapon platforms. The Dorniers
are twin-turboprop STOL utility aircraft. From 1981 until 1998 Dornier GmbH produced the aircraft. In 1983 Hindustan Aeronautics bought a production license and manufactured 125 aircraft. The Indian Navy is procuring 12 Dornier aircraft with improved sensors and equipment including glass cockpit, advanced surveillance radar, electronic intelligence, optical sensors and networking capabilities.
In January 2009, the wheels began turning on pair of follow-on buys covering short and medium range manned aircraft for India’s Navy and Coast Guard. That effort stalled out, restarted with a 2013 RFP.
India’s growing power is creating growing naval responsibility around the Indian Ocean, from the strategic chokepoint and shipping channel represented by Indonesia’s Straits of Malacca in the east, to anti-piracy operations off the coast of Somalia and basing agreements with Madagascar in the west. Hence the January 2009 deal for 8-16 of Boeing’s 737-derived P-8i Poseidon maritime patrol aircraft, which will replace Russian-built TU-142s as India’s long-range patrol aircraft.
Closer to home, however, India has its own long coastline to patrol, and neighbors like Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, and Pakistan that represent existing or potential trouble spots along its borders. The P-8i will work in those problem areas, but less-expensive and shorter-range aircraft are needed to supplement their coverage. Inshore, and at strategic locations like Nicobar Isand, new Dornier Do-228NG aircraft, and UAVs like India’s Israeli-built Searcher and Heron UAVs, provide solid local coverage. In between, medium sized manned aircraft must fill their own niches in India’s Navy and its Coast Guard.