The Andaman and Nicobar Islands are undergoing a significant upgrade in military infrastructure, including the modernisation of airfields and jetties, enhancement of logistics and storage capacities, improvement in troop accommodations, and establishment of a strong surveillance system.

According to a report in the Indian Express, the improved infrastructure is aimed to enable the deployment of more military forces and provide facilities for a greater number and size of warships, aircraft, missile batteries, and troops.

China is extending its influence in the region, including building a military base on Myanmar’s Coco Islands, located 55 km north of the Andaman and Nicobar Islands.

There are 836 islands in the Andaman and Nicobar Islands, of which 38 are inhabited. The Andaman and Nicobar Command (ANC) is the first and the only tri-service command in the islands and was established in 2001.

Sources said plans are underway to significantly enhance the surveillance infrastructure at one of the northern islands and to construct a permanent habitat for Indian troops.

The extension of an airstrip at a key naval air station is being carried out in phases. This development is aimed to facilitate the landing of larger aircraft, such as P8Is and fighter jets. Additionally, the jetty at this location is being enlarged to accommodate bigger ships. As part of the upgrades, a road stretching from the northern part of the islands to Port Blair in the south is undergoing improvements to handle increased traffic.

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Other major infrastructure upgrades include upgrading the Indian Air Force (IAF) station to hold fighter squadrons, and for longer durations. The runway at the AIF station will also be expanded to nearly 3,000 metre.

India is constructing a container transshipment terminal, accompanied by supporting infrastructure, to enhance traffic and operational capabilities.

Strategically located, the Andaman and Nicobar Islands command a position over one of the world’s most frequented sea lanes. This positioning allows India to oversee the movement from the South China Sea (Pacific Ocean) to the Andaman Sea (Indian Ocean) through the Strait of Malacca. This strait is crucial for trade and oil transport within the Indo-Pacific region.

The Indian Navy said last year Chief of Defence Staff (CDS) General Anil Chauhan inaugurated a modern Hangar and Dispersal system at INS Utkrosh in Port Blair. In February this year, Navy Chief Admiral R Hari Kumar inaugurated a precision approach radar (PAR) at INS Utkrosh to enable accurate horizontal and vertical guidance to land an aircraft safely in low visibility conditions as well as the Integrated Underwater Harbour Defence and Surveillance System.

Earlier this month, the Centre directed the National Remote Sensing Centre (NRSC) to increase its manpower to analyse satellite imagery, technical capacity of NRSC analysis, and dissemination of analysed data to enhance surveillance of 55 inhabited islands in Andaman and Nicobar Islands and Lakshadweep.

Last month, the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) conducted a meeting of the Multi-Agency Maritime Security Group (MAMSG)-Policy with officials of coastal security in the Andaman & Nicobar and Lakshadweep islands, as well as representatives from the Navy and the National Remote Sensing Centre (NRSC). The focus of the discussion was on the surveillance of uninhabited islands.

(With Agency Inputs)